"She's blowing the other students out of the water," her Honors Statistics teacher assured us. "I'm teaching with the TI calculator, and she has the Casio - but by the time I've finished explaining the process on the TI, she's already figured it out on the Casio. I have three honors classes, and she's scoring higher on her tests than anyone in any of them. She's so sharp."
"Some students, y'know, they talk to hear themselves talk. When Elayna speaks up, I know she always has something to say, and I know it's going to be insightful. I could tell she was really watching the debates closely, because she'd clearly been doing great analysis." Honors Civics, which is also where we first heard the phrase that absolutely made my night:
"She's a great advocate for herself."
I almost gasped. Because that is something I hadn't known; that is something I'd barely known to hope for. I heard that in many forms from many teachers, that Elayna had developed the ability to advocate for herself, that she knew what she needed to succeed and communicated that clearly.
"She's so funny!" her film teacher said. "And so honest, and clear about her wants and needs. And she's a great creative writer."
Her Humanities teacher is having to alter his teaching style for her. "I like to give the kids a question that sounds nonsensical, so they can thrash it around for fifteen minutes or so and gradually figure out what I'm really asking and address it. But Elayna understands what I'm getting at within the first minute or two. And she's not very physically commanding, but when she has something to say, she get the whole room's attention, and she just explains it all. And they all nod and look at me and I'm like... now what do I do for fifteen minutes?"
(Elayna, when told: "That's why he repeats himself in discussions sometimes! Should I not do that?"
Me: "No, keep doing it! You're a challenge for him, but the good kind of challenge.")
After they finish their Senior Thesis Project ("hers is one of the most challenging I've seen, and she is just on top of it - she's a very analytical reader and writer."), they'll be regrouping and doing a lot of small group work, and he's seeding the groups with his top students - and putting Elayna with a group of students who are quieter and engaged, because her anxiety kicks in with noise and rowdiness. He's putting her with students who need her, who she'll boost - "she elevates the level of discourse in the room." He wanted to make sure he was doing everything he could to support her and let her stretch.
We're used to coming in and having conferences with teachers who like her but are frustrated that she's slipping behind. Last night, it was all raves. She's blowing the other students away. She's insightful. She's honest. She's clear about what she can and can't do - she's starting filming on her movie next week instead of this week, because this week is tech week for her play. Her film teacher was thrilled that Elayna was clear about what she needed in order to do her best work. She's on top of everything, all of her assignments coming in on time, As on all the tests (105 on her Stats test due to extra credit), even while going through the agita of college applications and constant rehearsals. I guess all that steam gets blown off at home, because at school she is on point.
She. Is. A. Great. Advocate. For. Herself.
It took me decades to get to that point, to where I could determine what I needed, be confident that I damnwell deserved it, and was assertive about it. She is there now. She is there at seventeen. Holy crap, does she have a great head start.
She has finally kicked it all into gear. She's ready.
She's also a teacher's aide this year, for the math teacher she loved last year. The teacher's other aide is skittish about interacting with the students. Elayna? She jumped right in, walking through the class, helping people. She's grading tests. The teacher says that in the near future, she'll be having Elayna teach a few lessons herself, and develop some activities.
Have I mentioned that Elayna intends to be a teacher? So yeah. Proof for her that she enjoys this, and a big head start in terms of active experience. Basically this is becoming a pre-college internship.
If you'd asked me earlier this week if Elayna was ready for college, I would have meeped and said "We've found colleges where I think she'll thrive. I'm sure she'll do fine in the right environment."
Ask me today?
She is ready. She has got this.
I... I did a good job, you guys. I'm nearly at the end of this phase of motherhood, and the thing is, while it's going on? You can't really gauge how your kid is going to turn out. You're too busy actually raising them and juggling all the rest of your life. You do your best. You hope they absorb the right things. You hope they're learning the things you want them to learn.
It looks like my daughter learned to be assertive and articulate, to perform analysis on the fly, to understand her needs and negotiate when they're in conflict with the needs of others, to try new things, to be honest and direct, and I could type forever.