How sorority recruitment prepares young women for professional life.Read More
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All these years later, I still love my high school!Read More
This month at HerKentucky, we are all thinking about transitions into fall, and for many of us that means sending little ones (or big ones) off to school. I vividly remember the emotions of sending our firstborn son to Kindergarten four years ago. I was appropriately sentimental, apprehensive, and excited because I forced myself to be so. I had to will those emotions to be present because I was, at that time, also lost in the fog of raising a very young child who has special needs, not knowing what his future held, and I was desperately wondering if these milestones were ones I would share with him. (If you don't know me personally, you might not know much about Ben, but you can read about him and his developmental delays and other conditions here.)
The following year, Ben turned three and started at the Frankie Lemmon School. I often wonder what the real, divine reason would be for us moving back and forth between our beloved home in Kentucky and (this also lovely, but not home) North Carolina. I believe unequivocally that the reason is that there is no other place on earth like this school. This is a place where Ben thrived. He surpassed imaginary limits placed upon him by doctors who didn't know what Ben was capable of achieving and probably didn't want to give us what they felt would be false hope. Well. He showed them.
There might not be anything that has gnawed at my gut more than plucking Ben out of his safe and wonderful little school and sending him off to "big school." I'm still not sure that I love it there, mostly because of the long and important shadow cast by the place he outgrew. I know it will never be so good again. I know that I will begin morphing into one of the parents who fights and detests IEP meetings (whereas they have never been anything but delightful up to this point). I know that he is happy every day. I know that even though Ben can do just about anything, he is still going to be seen as different from other kids. I know he distributes hugs for all (whether you want one or not - we're working on it).
I also know that someday, maybe someday soon, someone will not be so kind to Ben. I'm not sure if he will notice that or not, but either way, the way we teach our kids to treat one another matters. This is something that can get buried under pressure to have great test scores, master math strategies, and beat AR goals. Please consider this a call to arms for all of us: parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and neighbors. Just be kind to everyone, all the time. If we can all set a beautiful example for our children to follow, then maybe all of these transitions won't seem so difficult for all of us tender-hearted parents every year. Bonus: You might get a hug from Ben, and you don't want to miss that, trust me!
So, I’ve been obsessing, er, thinking a lot lately about my eldest son’s all-too-near-future foray into middle school. I’m worried about him. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of meeting Lucas, let me take a moment to describe my dear son.
Lucas is, well, he’s very much a product of his environment. Take one high-strung, work-her-ass-off, the-sky-is-always-falling lesbian, add a terminally laid-back, slacker, isn’t-that-falling-sky-a-gorgeous-shade-of-blue lesbian, throw in a couple of dysfunctional extended family members with addictive personalities, add a chubby blonde baby to the mix, and you get—Lucas!
Lucas is awesome. Really, he is an amazing kid and I adore him. But he is an enigma, of sorts. He is a math whiz, but struggles with reading and writing. He can remember the words to his entire choir repertoire (many of which are not in English), but can’t seem to remember to flush the toilet. Or change his underwear. Or bring home his homework. He gets nervous. Often. But not over the things you and I might get nervous about.
He is a sociable kid. He can stand up in front of a crowd of hundreds and sing beautifully without so much as hint of nervousness. But he freaks out if the bathroom sink drips. He struggles with anxiety. He doesn’t handle the unknown very well. He has to know what he should be doing at all times. He has to know how things will turn out. He has to know how every story ends. He has attention issues at times. He’s never been diagnosed with attention problems, but he tends to escape to his own thoughts a lot. He’s a thinker. He’s what used to be called a daydreamer.
In a less than two weeks, he will be thrown into a completely different world and I am worried. He has a good group of friends, so I am not so much worried about him being lonely. Or bullied. Or called names. That may happen, of course, but he has a core group of four good boys that he hangs out with. He’s not a loner.
No, I don’t harbor the “normal” parent middle school worries. My worries are irrational. Ridiculous, even.
I worry that he will be unable to remember his locker combination and will start crying in the hallway—a turn of events that would mortify him.
I worry that he won’t remember how to get from one classroom to the next without a kindergarten-style walk-with-your-finger-on-the-wall line of classmates.
I am afraid that the clothes I pick out for him (because he does not care
in the least about clothes and will put on whatever I hand him) will be a little too middle aged lesbian chic for 5th grade.
I am afraid he will start speaking in lingo I don’t know and that I won’t be able to find an appropriate translator.
I am afraid he will begin cursing and, being a less than stellar parent, I will laugh rather than react appropriately, thereby reinforcing a sailor’s mouth in my innocent little boy. And we all know that “shit” and “damn” are gateway words. Before long, my baby boy will be casually spouting the BIG ONES, and it’ll all be my fault because I reacted poorly in middle school.
I am afraid he will not fit into any of the typical middle school cliques. He’s not truly a “geek/nerd” because he is a pretty dang social kid. He’s not really a “brainiac” because, while he is amazing at math, he can’t write a coherent sentence to save his life. He is in no way whatsoever a “jock.” He has neither the interest nor the ability to be athletic. He’s not really “preppy,” as he does not own a single piece of clothing manufactured by Hollister or Abercrombie (we are Old Navy people up in here). He’s never been your typical rough-and-tumble boy. He’s just a regular kid. A good kid. I am hoping there is a group for that.
I am afraid that his friends will find out that 1.) He cannot tie his shoes (seriously…he wears slip-on shoes all the time and has refused to learn to tie his shoes—though his six-year-old sister can tie hers), 2.) He still cannot ride a bike (and has no desire to learn, in part due to his anxiety), and 3.) He still sleeps with the stuffed “doggie” he’s had since birth.
I worry that his homework is going to be beyond me. Fourth grade math was already pretty advanced for my tastes.
I worry that he will stop climbing in bed with his mommas on the weekends. I love that time with him.
I worry that girls will like him. He’s a handsome boy with gorgeous blue eyes and big dimples. He’s smart. Sociable. Kind. Gentle. He’s everything an eleven-year-old girl wants in a steady “boyfriend,” right? I am SO not ready for unworthy little hair-flipping, giggling, make-up-wearing wenches hanging on my son. See…there you go. Proof positive that I am not going to be good at this.
I’m afraid he’ll get lost in the shuffle. An average kid amongst average kids. How will anyone know what an extraordinary child he is?
Transitions are difficult—particularly in parenting. In the end, we simply want the world to be kind to the little people we adore. We want them to recognize the amazing potential that exists behind those radiant blue eyes. We want them to understand what a beautifully crafted, brilliantly original child we created.
And we hope and pray that the world treats them as such.
I LOVE back to school season. I love beginnings and fresh starts and the possibility of a blank slate.
Of course, the best part of back to school season is school supplies! I recently asked everyone over on bluegrass redhead's Facebook what their favorite school supply was and people had some passionate opinions on the superiority of highlighters versus post its.
Got me thinking... you don't have to be a student to enjoy school supplies and what could be better than school supplies that remind you of the Bluegrass state!?!
~ Sarah Stewart Holland
When most people think of a sorority girl, the image that comes to mind is that of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde - gorgeous, well-dressed, tiny purse-sized dog named Bruiser, bubbly socialite, and a little bit ditzy. I'm almost positive that none of those adjectives have ever been used to refer to me. Okay, maybe I'm a little bit ditzy. All of this is to say that I am not exactly your stereotypical sorority girl.
When I graduated from high school in 1998, I had absolutely no intention of going through Sorority Recruitment when I enrolled at Transylvania University. Over the summer, people around me suggested that it might be a good way to meet people. As they pointed out, Transy's student population was roughly 90% Greek. My cousin, Emma, happened to be a Transy Phi Mu alumna. She urged me to give it a shot and to go into it with an open mind - after all, I could drop out of recruitment or simply choose not to join a sorority. Emma's influence was probably the greatest because she wasn't exactly the typical sorority girl, either.
You know where this story is going.
I signed my bid card with a single preference. I wanted to be a Phi Mu or an independent. There was no second choice.
After a short orientation period, I became a full-fledged member. Not only did I gain my cousin as a sister, I instantly gained thousands of women as my sisters. I was part of an organization with a long history of commitment to service, academics and the development of young women.
I wish I could say that I was a model Phi Mu woman while in school. I was not as philanthropic as I should have been. While I managed to graduate with a respectable 3.475 GPA, I was not as studious as I should have been, either. Additionally, I wasn't always the biggest fan of Greek life. I wasn't socially active on campus - choosing to move off campus earlier than most and spending most of my social life with friends who attended the University of Kentucky. Oddly, I was an officer and member of the Executive Committee one year. Even more oddly, I signed on to be in charge of Recruitment. Sometimes, my impulse to volunteer for things is pretty crazy (although we met our pledge quota plus the allowable additions that year!).
It wasn't until after graduation that I truly began to appreciate the positive effects of being in a sorority. I met women like Heather and Sarah - who all seemed like the independent, stylish, savvy, career women that I aspired to be. In search of my first really-real career position, I dutifully listed all my extracurricular activities in order to beef up my resume. I had no luck finding a position - after all, the market was flooded with accountants after Arthur Anderson went under in the wake of the Enron scandal - and accepted a low-paying government job where I had previously interned. I was surprised to get a call for an interview at a CPA firm six months later. I learned, during the interview, that my resume happened across the desk of a fellow Phi Mu alumna. She filed it with the intention to pass it along whenever she heard about open positions. She was committed to helping a sister out!
Essentially, I got my first professional position because I joined a sorority on a whim.
Since then, I've also learned that the things I experienced as a member of Greek life served wonderfully as life lessons. I learned that you don't have to love (or even like) all your sorority sisters or co-workers, but they are all deserving of your respect. I learned skills during recruitment like the ability to make small talk, remember names and details about a person translate really well to networking at business luncheons and conferences. Heck, I even learned a healthy respect for the protocols of Robert's Rules of Order. It turns out that the basic premises are really effective for running a corporate meeting!
While I may never be the woman who cites Blush and Bashful as her signature colors, or buys a "Future Phi Mu" onesie with carnations on the bum, I am proud to say that I am a sorority girl and Phi Mu woman. I will always recommend that other young women assess the Greek life at their prospective university and consider going through the Recruitment process.
Being a sorority girl is so much more than perfect hair and sitting down to smoke a cigarette - it's good preparation for life as a well-rounded woman.