My daughter started high school this Fall.
I’m 43, I mean 44? Hard to keep track these days. So I’m old enough to have a daughter in high school but it is so surreal. Cecelia is 14, Jack is 12, and all of a sudden the physical challenges of raising small children has transformed into the higher emotional challenges of raising conscious human beings.
I have spent the past five years cultivating relationships with Cecelia’s friends mothers through book clubs and trips. Thinking I had all my ducks in a row for the tough years. All of a sudden, this Spring, she upended me by deciding to attend high school at Little Rock Central High. Up until now, she has always been in small private schools. I longed to leave my small private school for Central when I was her age, and logistics prevented me, so I supported her.
As you might know, the Little Rock Nine are history. Bill Clinton was here last month for the 60 year anniversary, along with members of that brave tribe. We didn’t make it, I was out of town, but I’m still super proud of my daughter for going from a class of 60 something tops to a class of over a thousand in a place steeped in history. I’ve been in the building exactly once. She’s braving it solo. Attacking model UN and AP physics with aplomb. Making all new friends, to my carefully planning chagrin.
Last weekend I was added to two group texts – one tackling homecoming pre-party and the other a post party sleepover. I know none of the parents. It was a giant text stream of numbers. At one point, right before breakfast on Saturday, I replied to the larger pre-party text, thinking it was the smaller sleepover text. Got confused. Stepped on toes. Newcomer face plant. I was very apologetic to the one person I actually met for five minutes, and they were very kind, but UGH. I thought I had this all under control.
That’s life right? You think you have it all under control and it changes. Control is a huge illusion. Life is life is life. We like to operate and mitigate it through our own interpretation but really? If we shut those eyes it would all go on without us. So you just have to sit back and roll with the punches.
I was on call last week. Friday night after the football game I dropped my daughter off at a house to socialize. All I want to do on busy call weeks in the evening is veg in front of the TV or a book (hell non call weeks too). But I’ve got to meet these new friends and their parents, one of whom was having an after party until midnight at her parent’s house. Emboldened by wine, I marched in at 10 while the teenagers were dancing in the driveway and hung out for over an hour. I met a woman, challenged by fertility issues, who adopted two sons from Ethiopia. I met another women who is an airport engineer who travels all over the country. I became reassured that even though this is a brand new social circle, these are good people. I volunteered to do the 11:30 carpool the next night from the dance to the sleepover.
Six glamorous excited chatty girls piled into my car the next night. When your kids are teenagers, you glean much more information about their lives by listening to them talk to their friends than direct inquiry. So I relish carpooling them around. They appeared disappointed in the turnout, despite what looked like hundreds of teenagers hanging out around the venue, then started plotting basketball homecoming. They played music I have never heard of on Spotify. They took selfies with their phones. I got caught up in the moment – the excitement of youth.
I think I’m ready for high school. I’m glad it’s not me. That wasn’t my favorite time of life, but I’m going to try to make sure my daughter enjoys the heck out of it.
Cecelia and Jack, pre-homecoming festivities. He is dressed up to see Kinky Boots with my husband, myself, and his friend. We all wore jeans and nice tops but he surprised us with jacket and tie. I’m hoping to convince Cecelia to let me use this on the Christmas card this year.
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