And watch the sun sink like a stone
I’ve had some time to think about you
On the long ride home”
I’ve heard it called a mid life crisis. I pictured a 50 year old man with a bit of a gut, a receding hairline he’s trying to save, and a sports car he shouldn’t have bought. I pictured him flirting with younger women and making a fool of himself. I pictured a cheesy shirt and some jewelry he shouldn’t be wearing and a dirty martini. Its what I pictured. What crept up and slapped me square in the face was what it really is. Not so much a crisis as a stage of life. A transition. A skin shedding. A wing spreading. A death and a rebirth….and most shocking of all….not a HIM at all.
Dear High School,
She was literally JUST born. I swear. We were so excited. After many miscarriages and the realization that I may not have a child she came along. And our entire world changed. Our. Entire. World. You can tell people what its going to be like. To be a parent. But you have no idea. You have absolutely no damn idea until you are one. I spent many years in the beginning worried something would happen to her and I would lose her. I’d lost so many pregnancies pretty late term I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that she was mine. Alive and well and healthy and happy and mine. For now. I’ve slowly let go of that worry over the years. I will always worry. Every parent does. But she was here for 15 years in this house, under our rules, under our guidance and mostly influenced by us. OK…let’s be honest…she’s MY child so she’s pretty much had a mind of her own since birth. And for that- I am grateful.
And now High School you get her. You get to have her 8 hours a day. With your soda machines and snack bars and fancy lounge areas and tech center and career counselors and college planning team and boys with mustaches and muscles and football players and boys driving cars and parties and decisions I cannot help her make and your lockers in big hallways and advanced classes and teachers who do not know she suffers from Hypothyroidism and Hashimotos. Who do not know she is always in pain. Who do not know she worries about her Dad and her grades and Cheerleading and college and me. You get her but you don’t know her like I do. I carried her. I wiped her nose and her butt. I drove her to doctor appointments and spread eagled across her toddler body to hold her down while they stuck needles and immunizations in her leg while she screamed and it took every ounce of my body not to punch the doctor square in the face.
I stayed up many long, LONG nights with no sleep and vomit and accidents and nightmares and worry. Many cartoons at 2 in the morning to get through fevers. Many tears from torn stuffed animals by the dog. You were not there High School- but I was. And now you get her.
I swear we just brought her home from the hospital. Clueless. I swear we just dropped her off at Kindergarten and I cried through the door window watching her with Mrs. Hartman and crying with the other Kinder Moms. I swear we just moved to Colorado and I shook & cried as I dropped her at a new Middle School and hoped and prayed she’d make at least one friend. And now I hand her to you.
And she asked if she could ride to school with friends her first day of school tomorrow. And my heart stopped and my voice cracked as I said “sure”. And so it goes. And so she goes. Through doors, big doors. Big doors that she will never turn back from again. I know what you do High School. You make kids grow up. You make kids spend more time with friends than family. You make kids go to parties and make sometimes bad decisions and maybe bury sign posts in the practice football field out back…oh wait…that was MY HIGH SCHOOL.
But I also know you make kids independent. You introduce them to friends that will last a lifetime. You get kids involved in Cheerleading & other activities where she will find her best friends. You teach her way more than there is in a textbook. About sharing and empathy and unfairness and reality. You are the first place she drives to. You are the place she spends most of her time. You are the place that will help her decide where to go to college and what to do with her life. Tomorrow my baby starts High School. Tomorrow that little girl in her velcro Keds and green lacy back to school dress will wear a CHEER UNIFORM TO HIGH SCHOOL. I hand her to you and hope that all we’ve taught her STICKS. That at that party that night….and there will be one….she will make the RIGHT decision. That on those tests she’ll do her best. That she’ll kick every boys ass she can. Take care of her High School. She’s a good one!