Posts Tagged ‘growing up’

All Dressed Up and Everywhere to Go

March 14, 2019 7 comments

Our 2001 babes are graduating high school this year.

Yesterday/twelve years ago we sat cross-legged on the carpet of Ms. Kocher’s kindergarten class with them on our laps, amazed our wee ones were embarking on their academic and formative journey, away from our watchful gaze and in the path of bullies, germs, detention, and other pitfalls elementary schools breed.

Grudgingly, bravely, and in need of a five hour break, we let them go.

At first, they returned from school enthusiastically sharing stories about what happened on the playground, who was friends with who, and what they learned in science that day if it involved bugs. But the stories dwindled to a drip as they advanced through elementary school, halting completely in high school. You can’t put your finger on the moment it happened, where and when the line was drawn, but they eventually stopped seeing you as their confidante and most trusted resource and instead view you as solely – cue the eye roll – their parent.

Mourning the loss of our identity, we take a trip down memory lane to when our peanuts were newborn, and our hearts exploded with joy and optimism and also fear and anxiety should anything interfere with our precious nut. The power of these mixed emotions was the most intense love you’ve ever felt. No one mentioned when you were pregnant that this would happen. Sure, they warned of the cost of diapers and the lack of sleep, but neglected to mention the mountain of emotions your head and heart would scale – only to stumble and plummet from – daily.

Parenting is a serious mind feck.

So when this most perfect being created in your likeness (but is not, as they assert, us at all but a completely different individual from whom we expect them to be, thank you very much) can’t stand the way you chew your food or part your hair, that explosion of love experienced at their birth remains steadfast.

Behind their monosyllabic answers to our questions and closed bedroom doors they are growing, expanding, enduring heart break, learning calculus, coordinating outfits, Snapchatting and finding their voice.  Determining who they are is a full-time job and they are exhausted. We watch in awe and in terror as they morph into their identity, wishing we could help, daring to make suggestions, but keeping our distance.

Our soon to be graduates had their prom last weekend. Beautiful in their uniqueness, our babes from Ms. Kocher’s class have transformed into athletes, artists, academics, fashionistas, vegans, ravers, rappers, techies and wellness experts. They coiffed and tanned and donned fancy clothes over their full grown bodies for their event but we still recognized their newborn faces. They remain our babies, they just have become themselves.

And the unfathomable thing about the tidal wave of love we experienced the day they were born is this: it grows.(Their grade three classroom art project still hangs prominently in my house)

Dancing in the Dark

October 24, 2012 2 comments

Skipping their way to high school

My daughter started high school this September, and we are floundering, groping for a life preserver in harrowing seas, searching for something to hang on to before the next wave pulls us under. Not her, my daughter – oh no, she is having the time of her life – but we, as in my husband and I, and my comrades, grade eight moms with whom I drink wine.

They make it look so easy on Glee, the parents don’t even have a role to play. Which is exactly the point. I wasn’t quite ready to not play a part.

We were excited to start high school, and this time I mean both my daughter and I. Eight years in the same school, ten if you count preschool, and we were ready for a change. Change is good, keeps you young, invigorates your mind, restores sanity ( so I’m hoping). Even though change meant leaving her idyllic and inspiring elementary school, we squared our shoulders and bought a new, sturdier backpack for those heavy textbooks she would be hauling back and forth, and showed up for the first day wearing new, albeit ripped, jeans and a slightly nervous smile.

It turned out to be as shiny as the apple she refused to eat, having discovered pizza bagels in the cafeteria. High school was all that and more: locating her classes and navigating between campuses was challenging and interesting, bigger classes and a much larger school meant more friends, more boys, more teams, more clubs, more everything. All good, all exciting, two thumbs up, four if you count mine. (I personally had a little trouble finding her classes for parent teacher night, so let’s downgrade that to three, but why am I even in the picture?) My daughter was loving high school, is loving high school.

The problem, however, is she outgrew her knee-highs and grew into a social life overnight, while I simply rolled over in my sleep.

In the good old days, like two months ago, she did what we did on the weekend. If that meant trooping to her sister’s soccer game and then visiting friends for dinner, we did it together. But not now. Now there are football games to watch and movies to go to and mass sleepovers to attend and dances and the all-worrisome parties. Our measly social life is in peril, our babysitter is perennially busy. That is sad, seeing as we have only recently rekindled our dormant extracurricular lives; but what is even worse is this feeling that our cozy little bubble, the one that was all-knowing, all-hearing, all-seeing, due to my ability to hover over my daughter and discuss with other parents the innermost thoughts of our children (and occasionally break into her computer when there were discrepancies), this bubble has been burst open to reveal one single bold question mark.

I knew that starting high school would be the beginning of new independence for her, even went so far as to wish for it; I just didn’t expect it to hit so quickly.

So now we are scrambling to find and institute new boundaries. Huddling with other parents to compare notes and gather whatever information we can. Enrolling in social media lectures to help with this affront. I book her weeks in advance for babysitting, and ignore her inevitable eye roll.

And now we hope. Hope that all of those lessons we droned into her made some tiny impact, and that the choices she will make – without us hovering – will be good ones.

The naivete of youth

January 6, 2011 2 comments

I'm the baby in the back ground, missing all the fun as usual

I had a tough audience to impress when I was a kid.

I was the youngest by a long shot in a litter of nine children, so by the time I got around to doing things they were old news.  No one batted an eye when I started kindergarten, for instance, I think my mother wondered why I wasn’t under her feet from the hours of 9-3 one day and put it all together.

Me in the front thinking "how can I get big, fast?"

I desperately wanted to inhabit the world of my older siblings, who always had more interesting drama in their lives than me winning square ball at recess.  Their lives consisted of mystical things, like getting jobs and getting fired, boyfriends or girlfriends and getting dumped, getting the keys to my parents car, and partying.  I couldn’t compete.  I put my Fisher Price Little People aside and just watched them coming and going instead, it was infinitely more interesting.

My toys were not nearly as interesting as my siblings

Finally I started Junior High, and on the much further walk to the bigger school some of my classmates lit up a smoke.  I had finally reached the Big Time; I had joined the ranks of my siblings.  At thirteen, I was a bona fide adult.

Feeling high and mighty with my new half locker, my class schedule carefully taped to the inside, lock combination written on my hand, I entered my geography class as the grade nine students cleared out.  If I was now an adult they were virtually grandparents – I was awestruck by the whiskers adorning the top lips of the boys, and downright perplexed by the concealed pimples on the girls.

Settling into my seat, I noticed a student had written something in loopy handwriting on the board.  It was profound.  Deep.  I was memorized by its multiple meanings, inspired by its possibilities.  Would I be this smart when I was in grade nine?  The teacher entered and erased the board, but not before I had committed the quote to memory.  Finally, I had something worthy and wise to contribute to the dinner table discussion that evening.  My siblings would be astonished with my insightful prose, and ensured of my step into adulthood.

As I crammed into the least desirable spot at the dinner table, the corner spot that necessitated either climbing over one of my sisters or climbing under the table and over my dog, a permanent resident under foot at dinner, I bided my time for making my announcement.  I waited for a quieter moment, which only ever happened when everyone’s mouths were full of clam chowder.  As the spoons rose to their lips, I left mine in its place and took a deep breath.

“So I read this really cool quote on the board today at school: It’s not the size of the ship, it’s the motion of the ocean.”

My father almost choked on his chowder, and my sister’s went flying out of her mouth and across the table.  I was startled; this had more impact than I had imagined.  But before I could inwardly congratulate myself, the entire table burst out laughing, and I knew my error in one horrible second.  My whole face turned pink, then red, and finally purple as I stared into my clam chowder, wanting to disappear into its creamy depth.  My naivete set me firmly back into my barely teen-aged self, the lesson being don’t pretend to be something you’re not.