The Loh Life

The kids are ... OK, part 1: secret lives

Sandra Tsing Loh is thankful her children like to eat.

I hate to complain about how much homework my sixth grader has... and let me tell you why.

At the risk of kicking over a hornet's nest, when parents I know complain about their kid's excruciating homework load?  It comes with very thinly masked bragging, doesn't it?

I don't hear complaints about how NUNS give a lot of homework, or about how Baptist kindergartens give a lot of homework, or how the inner city is stricken with a lot of homework.

The massive homework load sufferers tend to be kids in academically competitive, nose-bleed-high-scoring public or private schools- Gifted kids,  who are also whizzes on the dance team or in sports or on the violin and they're so exhausted - !

Not that they don't feel pain, they do - and it's not to be taken lightly.  I don't know how, but I'm yoked to some sort of mommy website that sends me scary email updates about once a week on new things to worry about.  Sample headline:

WHAT I'D WISH I'D KNOWN ABOUT THE SECRET LIFE OF MY TEEN DAUGHTER.  ONE ANGUISHED MOM'S STORY.

What can I say?  I myself have a teen daughter, who clearly has at least 12 if not 17 secret lives.  I'm like a rat with a lever.  I always immediately click the button.  The story is always something like:

"My daughter Amanda seemed to be so happy and adjusted.  She was a straight A student, played trumpet in band, had tons of friends, starred in all her school plays, and was captain of the cross country team.  No one would think she had any problems.  But often she'd skip dinner, saying she had already eaten at school.  There was also incessant exercising, and later via her psychotherapist I found there was cutting - "

It's 10 o'clock on a Saturday morning, and I'm already freaking out.  I'm not calm to begin with, and this is one HBO documentary I can imagine all too vividly.

I storm into the bedroom of my 13-year-old, who is lying on her bed like a cat, laptop open, watching "A Very Potter Musical," for probably the tenth time.

"Thank God you're not incessantly exercising," I exclaim loudly, to be heard through her headphones, "or really ever!"  Both my daughters seem to enjoy their meals roundly.  When I try to get us to walk eight minutes to the park, they hang onto me like lichen.  They like knitting and Costco croissants (baked, with a little butter).  I suppose I should be grateful that they're in danger neither of making the Harvard crew team, or of suffering from anorexia.

But that still doesn't mean my life won't be a living hell.

Next week: Volcanic Magma and Screaming.


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