When my youngest did his final walk through the halls of the elementary school we called home for over eight years, I was “ready.” Stoically, I started that morning determined to get through the day with the school mascara intact. And a few hours later, I gave in, gave up, and gave many tear-filled hugs. Ugly cry? Well, it won that day. And it bonded a group of us moms together with the power of 400 glue sticks and pockets full of gummy bears. Today, I watched that same child do his final walk through his middle school. Grab some tissues, right?
Let me tell you, middle school can keep it. Middle school teachers? Medals. All of them. Middle school was not pretty with either of my offspring. Quite frankly, middle school made our household losers. And not in the “20 pounds lighter” sort of way. We lost class parties and hugs. We lost projects that used crayons and glue sticks and dinners without eye rolling. We lost PE classes filled with screams of glee and shoes that cost less than our electric bill. We lost kids who call shotgun because they’re now trying to kill us and unsuspecting stray animals by running stop signs that they didn’t see for the third time. We lost all desire to speak reason, to discuss rationally, to reflect maturely. He lost his ability to apologize; I lost my ability to pretend he wasn’t annoying the daylights out of me.
I have great hopes for high school for that one. I’m hopeful that it will spark a desire to actually do the band homework, to embrace the crayon-less project. No, there will be no more class parties. But I feel like I’m ready to win him back. See, I’ve had a little practice. I’ve already learned how to deliver the “permission slip I forgot to sign” in complete stealth mode so as not to be detected by anyone who knows I’m the mom. I am fluent in asking about a day without seeming like I care too much about it. I speak high school. And I can say with some sense of relief that high school hasn’t taken quite as much from our family.
Thing is, though, that it’s about ready to take a lot. The oldest is spending time filling out college applications and being anywhere but home. Practicing to get me ready for that first day of school when the text is 100 miles and not 100 feet away, when the milk money becomes a meal plan that costs more than the mortgage. High school is taking my kids away from my door on a road with no speed limit, a road paved with my tears and their dreams. I can pretend that they long for the glue sticks, tiny shoes and gummy bears as much as I do some days. I even think I might look fondly on the outright disgust expressed when I suggest the wrong shirt to go with the pants. I might actually miss middle school then.
Well, that might be taking it a bit too far.