There are two thousand miles and some 20 years between them. One housed around 15 hundred sophomores through seniors, another includes freshman and probably 500 more kids. Snow was as much a certainty at one as humdity is at the other. But one step through the smudged glass doors, with the tuba bellowing from the gym, and the banners urging you to “JOIN OUR CLUB”, and I am back in high school. Not my alma mater in Spokane, Washington but my daughter’s high school in Alpharetta. I awoke early last week to accompany her to orientation and this morning she left at 7:20 am to start her first day. Unlike middle school and most surely elementary school, this day, honestly, did not carry with it any anxiety. None. We are a laid back family in most situations. As parents we have treated our only child as an adult for many years. Milestones are not met with trepidation or concern. Don’t mistake that for uncaring though. Or that we lack excitement. That’s not it. I love watching our daughter’s successes. I ache over her failures. I encourage her interests but don’t inflate reality. And for some people the reality is, high school sucks. It doesn’t have to though nor should she enter the doors anticipating a barrage of bullying, mean girls, crowded hallways, tons of homework and unrequited love. Sure those things are all a possibility. There is also the possibility that none of that will happen. I mentioned in earlier posts about a parenting expert I love, John Rosemond. He’s old school for sure. A child of the 50′s, he talks about how in his day, the parents were the center of the family unit and children and our relationship with them was secondary to the one we have with our spouse. I subscribe to this. I may not always adhere to it religiously. But I agree and try to remember that the best thing I can do for our daughter is to love her father. Last night as my husband and I watched our usual Sunday night HBO lineup and our daughter had gone up to bed, we looked at each other and realized that in four years it would be just us again. That today started the final chapter of her childhood, her life with us. Yes, it makes me terribly sad because despite loving the “Rosemond parenting method” I still overindulge her, fuss over her routine or appearance, and fall victim to the guilt of “always being at work.” I get it wrong just about as much as I get it right. Hubby and I will be just fine when she leaves. She will be just fine when she leaves. She will be just fine in high school. God equipped her with intelligence and grace, her dad and I have done our part with the genetics and coping mechanisms, and she has filled out the rest in a way I could have never imagined. As we navigated our way to each of her classes during orientation, stopping to hug a friend or get our bearings, it all felt so eerily familiar. The quirky art teacher, the no nonsense sciene instructor, the crazy drama club kids, the smell of the cafeteria, the tattered textbooks stacked in the corner, the frantic comparing of schedules to make sure you have lunch with your best friend. It was 1984 again and my mom was sending me out the door not with worry or worst case scenarios, not with anxiety or what-ifs, not with criticism or complaint, but secure in the knowledge she’d done her job and now it was time for me to do mine.
Knock ‘em dead this year honey. Like I know you will.