In just a few short days I will be the parent of a high school freshman. Every time I say that I hear dramatic music play in my head. It is like the kind you hear right before the commercial break of a soap opera, or maybe when the killer jumps out in a horror movie, I'm not sure which it is yet.
We have had three pretty great years in middle school. I remember being equally nervous when she started middle school. I was so concerned about all the new challenges that she would face. I worried about peer pressure and bullying and if the work would be too much. The truth is that the work is harder, there are more pressures from friends, and there are always bullies, but she was ready to take it all on. She made new friends, sadly lost some old ones whose lives took different directions, and became much more sure of herself and of what friendship meant. In short, these challenges I was fearing became the very things she needed to mature.
This new change has me fearing something totally different. Sure there are the same old questions of course load and peer interaction, but what keeps me up now is the knowledge that these next four years are my last chance to ready her for leaving home. The school seems to be doing their best to remind me of this. All the talk of colleges and tests and career paths just drives home the feeling of time slipping away. Hearing things like "By now your child probably has an idea of what they want to major in when they go to college, and narrowed down the field of possible places they'd like to attend" gives me heart palpitations. It hasn't been even a full year since my daughter ruled out "professional ballerina". That is only one step removed from "fairy princess". Now she is researching things like forensic psychology and the best pre-law degrees. I'm not ready for this! But, she is, and that is the only thing keeping me sane.