Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Youngest

Accidentally Me and I were discussing this via email a few weeks ago and I've been meaning to write on the subject ever since.

It came up around the time that I was lamenting that it had been 10 years since I graduated from college. She's clever and good at math and figured out that I had finished high school when I was 17.

Not because I was a truly advanced genius child or anything. My birthday is in the early fall and an early fall birthday results in a weird should-we-or-shouldn't-we decision when it comes to choosing when your kid starts school. Or at least it did in Michigan back in the '80s.

Maybe educators have fine-tuned this process in the last 30 years. I am not an expert on this subject.  

All I know is that my parents elected to start me in school a little bit early.

The story that my mother tells me is that I was tested to see if I was ready for kindergarten. Whoever evaluated me had me hop on one foot and recite my address and whatever. Their professional recommendation was that I was good to go. And so I went.

School was always fine for me. I struggled in some respects and I thrived in others and, when I was in school, I didn't give a second thought to my age in relation to the age of my classmates. Now that I'm 15 years out, however, and I have seen the huge difference that a year can make for a kid and I reflect back on my own experiences: I am not sure I would put my own kid in the same situation.

I would never, never say as much to my parents. I don't doubt that they made the decision that they thought was best for me. That's the thing about being a parent, right? Just doing the best you can?  

Academically, I was fine but socially, I probably would've benefited from being held back another year. I always felt a little overwhelmed and behind. Maybe I am just a person who is prone to feeling overwhelmed and behind I am but maybe it's because I wasn't as mature as most of my classmates.

I feel like, in some ways, being that kid who was always younger and always behind and always less mature set me up to be the adult that I am. The adult who feels a little like she's always running to catch up.


Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I can see how you'd feel that way. My brother has a summer birthday so was old enough to start school but my parents could have waited a year and I think if they could go back and re-make that decision, they would. It's tough to feel like you are always a couple of steps behind and to feel like you are always playing catch up...

Unknown said...

I graduated a few weeks before my 18th birthday, since I have a June birthday. I have a twin brother, so no only were my parents eager to get us out of the house, but we also had a lot more social experience than the average kid.

We weren't the youngest in our classes, though. His first girlfriend had an October birthday.

The only time my age made a difference was in college. Most of my friends celebrated their 21st birthdays junior year, and I had to wait until the summer between junior and senior year.

I think it just really depends on the kid, and sometimes, you can't predict it. Academically, I was bored out of my mind until high school, and even then, I was only challenged in a few of my classes. I sometimes complained to my parents that they should have helped me skip a grade in elementary school, but they also worried about the social ramifications of doing that. In retrospect, they were probably right, but it would have been nice not to be bored all the time when I loved learning so much.

my life is brilliant said...

I'm a mid-August baby, and my parents started me early as well. I graduated high school at 17 and actually didn't turn 18 until after my first clue of days in college. I always felt the same age as my classmates—until it came time to do something that required a certain age I hadn't reached yet. Things like driving, going to a club, drinking ... My classmates often forgot I was younger than them too.

There was one girl in my class who was younger than me, by one week. She backed into my car after a school dance. Jerk.

Lynn said...

I graduated a half year early right before my 18th birthday and started college at the same time, so for a couple weeks I was running back and forth between high school and college classes. Not sure if they let people do that anymore. I'm from Michigan too. I was bored to death in high school and couldn't wait to get out.

Anonymous said...

i was 17 when i finished high school/started college too. :) i loved it! until i was a 20 year old college senior who couldn't drink alcohol!

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