I live with a high school senior. And she is a high school senior who will go on to a four year college. And it’s October. And so, it’s application time. It’s personal statements and supplements (not the vitamin kind, but the myriad of silly, nonsensical questions that colleges throw into their applications, like Why do you do what you do?, even if said colleges use the common app, which is supposed to streamline this whole ridiculous process). It’s did you ask for recommendations? and have you taken an ACT (SAT) practice test lately? time. Not to mention what schools have you toured? and do you have a first choice? time. Could be crazy-making time.
I was out for a run when Daughter 1.0 called. She was in tears and I couldn’t understand what she was saying at first. “What? You’re about to step on something?”
“Noooo! I screwed up on something!”
“What did you screw up?”
“I sent my application into X University and I misspelled something!” she wailed.
“Take a breath. Calm down. What did you misspell?”
“My college counselor’s name! I switched the E and the L. I’m so stupid!”
So this is what it’s come to. A full blown panic attack because she transposed the E and the L in the first name of her college counselor. Well, you might as well cross that school right off the list. There’s no way they would accept her now, what with her clear lack of intellectual ability. Obviously the L goes before the E!
I manage to talk her off the ledge.
But it got me thinking about the pressure kids are under, the relentless quest for perfection. Brilliant people sometimes make spelling errors. They even make (gasp) grammatical errors. They get things wrong before they get them right. Isn’t this what we should be encouraging in our kids? Make mistakes. It’s what you do after those mistakes that matters. That’s what leads to growth and understanding, right? Think baseball (something 1.0 loves, like, fanatically). Make an out 6 out of 10 times and you’re a superstar. What Daughter 1.0 did, once she had stopped crying, was compose a (funny) email to the admissions office pointing out her error. X University would be lucky to have her. And I am only slightly biased.
This whole getting into college industry feels a little out of hand to me. And in our particular socio economic group it seems to be driven not by the students, but by the parents. I know, I know, we all want to give our kids every opportunity, every advantage. We don’t want them closing doors now when they don’t even know all the doors that exist for them. Especially when they are perpetually distracted by shiny objects (Boys! Clothes! Music!) But what happens to those kids, whose parents got them into college by hiring an army of tutors and consultants, when they are actually in college?
My Husband says he gets tired of being asked where “we” are applying to college. “I went to college, over 20 years ago,” he says. It is hard though, not to get caught up in it. One night as we were climbing into bed my Husband said “I really wish she would spend more time studying for the ACT.”
“Really?” I asked him. “She’s 18 years old and lives in one of the most amazing cities in the country (the world?) and what you really wish is that she would spend more time studying for the ACT? Really?”
“When you put it that way ….”
Garlicy Chicken Thighs with Haricot Vert (Skinny Green Beans)
1 and 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup olive oil
Lots of garlic, maybe 8 cloves or so, 2 cloves minced and the rest peeled and smashed
4-6 tinned or jarred anchovy fillets
Couple tablespoons of brined capers, drained
Crushed chili flakes to taste
Chopped Italian parsley
Pre-heat the oven to 350. Season the chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper and set aside while you make a anchovy garlic oil. Heat the olive oil in a large oven proof skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the smashed garlic cloves (reserve the minced ones for later), the anchovies, the capers and the chili flakes. BE CAREFUL! The oil will splatter as the anchovies dissolve. Stir the pan until the anchovies are dissolved and the garlic is golden. Add the chicken thighs to the pan and brown one side well. This will take about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken and pop the pan into the oven. Cook the chicken in the oven for about 10 more minutes until cooked through.
When the chicken is in the oven, zest one of the lemons then cut both of the lemons in half. Par boil the green beans in very salty water for 1-2 minutes then drain and plunge into an ice bath or rinse thoroughly under very cold water. Let drain.
When the chicken is done, remove the pan from the oven and set back on the stove over medium heat. Take the chicken out of the pan and place on a dish near the stove to keep warm. Squeeze the two lemons into the pan and scrape the bottom and sides with a wooden spoon (also known as deglazing the pan). Toss in the lemon zest and stir once. Return the chicken to the pan and coat with the sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Toss the green beans with salt and olive oil and serve with the chicken.