The Art of Giving Up Before Even Trying

There were a lot of things that I considered writing about. I considered discussing the meme going around about “Underage Women” really just a term for children that aims to mask the horrors of what happened. But that should be common sense. I considered discussing the case where the judge tossed aside a rape case because the boy “had good grades, came from a good family, and had a good life ahead of him”. I decided against that because it was going to be an obscenity riddled post about how that’s a slippery slope of letting a kid off when he knows he did something wrong. But again, that would be common sense. A rapist, who admits to rape and sends the video of it like it’s a joke, should get the book thrown at him. Because too many times, they just walk. It’s disgusting.

I’m tired of disgusting news. I’m tired of reading something every day that makes me wonder why we are even bothering. If criminals can just do whatever they want just because they are rich, then what’s the point? Why should anyone follow laws? Why do I have to keep hearing horrible stories? You want to hear about these things probably as much as I do. So I won’t even bother. Because I don’t think poignant words can even help make a change here. We’re the parents of the next generation. We lead by example. And if the news is to be believed, we are doing a crappy job of that.

My oldest son jokes that he’s my pride and joy. He’s not wrong; both of my boys are. While my oldest may not have some of the struggles as my youngest does, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t manage to get the center of attention as “star athlete” and excellent student. Things have always just been easy for him. He’s the type of kid who can never touch his school work outside of school and still manage a 90 in an AP class. That’s just who he is. Though, I keep reminding him that this isn’t something he’ll get away with in college. But, honestly he probably will. He’s just a natural at most things he does, except tennis. That is something that he doesn’t excel so much at, but he goes out there and tries his best. That’s what he does. He has my determination, drive, and unearned confidence.

That was until he got his National Honor Society eligibility application. He qualified to apply for a spot. I was elated. I was so proud. Until he said “Whelp, not doing it.” What do you mean you’re not doing it? “I don’t have the qualifications. I won’t get accepted anyways.” Just do it. It became a back and forth, that as of writing this he still has avoided the application process. I called my mother, knowing that she would take the same position I did. She did and for a brief few minutes I thought it was going to happen. It didn’t. My husband came home. His response: “He knows what he needs to do.” Then, sternly looked at our son. We got the eye roll, the exasperated “Ugh”, and nothing. I opted to not mention it the rest of the day. Because the more I nag him, the less likely I can convince him.

This is the “Art of Giving Up before Even Trying”. I used to do this. “Why bother going to college? I screwed up so much that I barely graduated high school.” My now husband told me that I wasn’t the same person as I was. He was right. Before, I was more concerned with writing or art than I was with school. I wanted to live in the Berkshires, a studio loft apartment where I would just write and be happy with life. I didn’t need school for that, right? Then, I became a mom at 18. That gives you a dose of reality real quick. That caused me to grow up so much in a short period of time that when I see moms my age today without the same level of dedication and responsibility as I did at 18, I get disgusted. Truly disgusted. How is it that I was 18 with more sense than a nearly 40 year old woman?! Or older! I did end up going to college and I did very well, nearly graduating with honors if not for a glitch that made me get a 0 in a class that took down my GPA. Ultimately, it was my fault and I took responsibility for that. It wasn’t the grade that mattered; it was the fact that I did it.

My son had never shied away from anything. Sure, he doesn’t like failing at his own high expectations of himself, but who does? But the idea that he wouldn’t even try because of this bothers me. We all explained to him that we are immensely proud that he was invited to apply. And if he failed? Their loss. He’s fantastic. But by not trying, that was something that was disappointing. I will never fault him for trying. It’s my job to encourage him to shoot for the stars and beyond, and it’s my job to catch him if he falls on the way. My hope is that he will realize this on his own and that he does try anyways. Because there’s nothing gained from not trying at all.

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