Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A high schooler. Let that sink in.

It’s been two months, so the reality of the situation has taken hold, and I finally have the strength to write these words without feeling like I’m in a bad dream: We have a high school student living in our house.

And she’s our daughter.

Our wee first child, who I remember being born and a thousand other little kid things since. That precocious little blonde who could count to 16 before she was two, and said “actually” so clearly and so often as a toddler that we knew we were in trouble early: she’s officially a freshman.

Which makes me officially old. It makes all my old friends officially old too, and some of them are taking it harder than I am.
I almost accidentally kicked this sign.
But I didn't.
It really hit me when she went to her first homecoming game under the lights at the high school football stadium. The rest of us attended, too, though we promised not to acknowledge her. It hit me then because, while I don’t recall much about my freshman year, I remember my first homecoming game. It was rainy and cool and smelled of popcorn. We were under the lights of our much smaller stadium with all the new friends I’ve lost touch with in the decades since. It was a blast. At least, I thought it was at the time.
And it really wasn’t that long ago. Honestly.
The weird thing is that, as she begins this adventurous time in every young person’s life, all I can think about is the next looming milestone: college. That’s what gets me. Oh my god. She’s going to be in college soon. Like sooner than how long ago she was in elementary school, which wasn’t that long ago.
College, like leaving the nest, and moving out, and getting away from this whole family of ours. And that makes me want to put my head in my hands and wail. I miss her already.
And how are we going to afford that, anyway? A thought that makes me stop wanting to cry and start wanting to hyperventilate.
WTF is she doing to us, growing up and causing all this pain, self-reflection and general regret that all these years have slipped through our fingers forever.
But she doesn’t seem bothered by it at all. She’s having the time of her life, attending high school football games, taking honors courses I would certainly fail, and going to things like Improv Club.
Improv Club? Really. We didn’t have clubs like that at my school. God I wish we did.
I also had a lunch break. Which she doesn’t, and for the life of me I can’t figure that one out.
Maybe it’s because she goes to a school that has way too many Type A parents, or something, but most kids at her school don’t take a lunch. And that’s not a typo. They don’t have a lunch break in their daily schedule. They grab and go, eating in art, or study hall, or some other elective that’s supposed to make them more desirable to some college admissions officer.
No lunch?! Whoever heard of such a thing? And why exactly are they doing this? Preparing these kids for a life of eating at their desk and working through dinner? Besides, if they are never in the school cafeteria, when is the big musical number supposed to happen? When are they going to stand up to the big school bully and dump his (or her) tray of food all over their letterman sweater?
Seriously. I couldn’t have survived without a lunch. Still can't. Nor would I want to.
I have half a mind to pull her out of that darn school and start teaching her myself. I remember algebra, a little. I’m sure we could figure it out together. ("Dad, algebra was 8th grade. I'm taking geometry now"). Fine. I’ll just have to quit my job and brush up on a few other subjects. And then we could also have lunch together. And we could keep her here and protect our wee little girl from all those mean people in the world who don’t even want her to eat.
That could work.
... Or maybe it couldn’t.
Maybe this is all part of the parenting gig. This bitter sweet job that you wish away half the time, and yet never get enough of. Maybe letting go is part of the art form.
I’m just not ready.
I guess I’m fine with high school. Sort of. But not college. Not yet.
I don’t even want to think about that.


4 comments:

Jeremy Barnes said...

high school was a very hard transition for our daughter. It sounds like yours is doing well, be proud dad.

Larry Bernstein said...

You're a year ahead of me- but I don't feel young.
Glad the transition is going well for her.
No lunch - taking things too far. Kids are so pressured these days. Uggh.

Whit said...

We started high school this year, too. It's not nearly as painful as I expected.

Cort Ruddy said...

She is doing great. So we're happy about that. I honestly think my wife is taking it worse than anyone. The whole "they're growing up too fast" thing. Which they are.