Friday, January 15, 2016

Unintended Consequence

Any parent with more than one child will understand the balancing act that is dividing your attention between your children in a way that doesn't leave anyone feeling ignored. In the last few months, obviously, considerable time time has been spent on Jack, his issues, the arrangements for wilderness and school, family and individual therapy and visits. The list goes on.

One of the costs of all that time spent on Jack has been the attention that could have been paid to Jack's sister, our oldest, Katie. She is a senior in high school now and is not only a model student but she has also been an absolute rock through all of Jack's tribulations.

Katie was born in 1998. For parts of her life she also struggled with anxiety and a self-imposed pressure to perform. Excellent guidance from her elementary school led us to find an occupational therapist that designed a program that helped soothe her tension and develop an approach to living a more relaxed existence. In her early teens she, like a lot of teenage girls, again showed some angst as she navigated the social pressures associated with early high school. She and Lindsay banged heads on some issues but the conflicts didn't last long. By the time Katie's junior year rolled around she was a well-rounded, level headed young woman.

Along the way Katie was always involved in dance. I remember taking her to ballet class at an age that her teddy bear "Spike" would sit against the mirror watching class. More than participate, she thrived in the dance community. Her disciplined approach to life served her well as she rose through the ranks at her school. By the time she was in high school there was talk of dance as a major in college and even ballet as a profession. She auditioned for and was accepted to several summer dance intensives, attending programs with Boston Ballet and Miami City Ballet. In addition to her school work she was spending 20 hours a week at the dance studio.

The time spent in the studio would take it's toll on her young body. She suffered from chronic inflammation in her spine and ultimately tore the labra (plural of labrum, look it up) in both of her hips. One of those has been surgically repaired. The wear and tear and associated pain led her to "retire" from dancing in her junior year. She has since gone back to ballet class for fun and mental health sake but no longer dances with the "company".

Katie's weighted grade point (taking into account her advanced placement courses) is in the 4.3 range. She earned a 31 on her ACT and is now leveraging her success in the classroom as she applies to colleges. She has been accepted to the University of Colorado and Montana State University. She is still waiting to hear from USC, Berkley, University of Washington and Stanford. She will, no doubt, be accepted by some, if not all, of those schools.

The point of all this is that the senior year of a student's (child's, my daughter's) should be spent celebrating the success born of hard work and dedication. Katie has always been an excellent student, an accomplished dancer, amazing artist and photographer. She doesn't go in for the hard partying that other kids her age do. When she does indulge in a drink or two she usually tells us about it. Those qualities are to be recognized as exceptional in today's world. Instead, Katie spent the early part of the school year trying to keep Jack straight, looking for him when he went AWOL or worrying about what would become of her little brother. She misses Jack.

I could not be more proud of the wonderful young woman Katie has become. I will mourn the loss of the time that we could all have been celebrating her accomplishments. At the same time, I will eagerly await her future successes as she pursues her next academic challenges and future career.

I love you Katiebug.

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