Our youngest starts high school tomorrow. So obviously we cleaned out his school backpack this weekend.
What? You had your child clean out their backpack in June? Yah, that would make sense. That’s not how we roll, and definitely not how this summer went. Although Guy did sneak a peak in, oh, July, and discovered the remnants of at least a week’s worth of lunchbox remains. Gross…
At least I knew we wouldn’t encounter food junk. Just papers and school supplies. We recycled/tossed most of it, and restocked a fresh binder with dividers, paper, pens and pencils.
Among the few papers we saved, I found this poem:
by Pat Mora
One day they disappear
into their rooms.
Doors and lips shut
and we become strangers
in our own home.
I pace the hall, hear whispers,
a code I knew but can’t remember,
mouthed by mouths I taught to speak.
Years later the door opens.
I see faces I once held,
open as sunflowers in my hands. I see
familiar skin now stretched on long bodies
that move past me
glowing almost like pearls.
I read it, then read it again. I put it aside to read again later.
It is and isn’t my experience. With one in college and another beginning high school, I am chest-high in the waters of parenting adolescents. My kids have shut their doors and spoken in code, and yet I’m glad to say we haven’t become strangers. Even in the worst of C19’s angsty periods, we still found ways to communicate.
The last step of high school registration took place last week, earlier in the morning than school starts tomorrow. I didn’t sleep deeply during the night, fearing I’d oversleep. Instead, I jolted out of bed and woke the household an hour early, sure our friends would arrive to pick us up in ten minutes. Only I laughed at myself when I realized we had oodles of time…
He is anxious, but he is ready. He knows he is loved. He has good friends. He is a curious learner, and he has the band room as a safe space in which to shine. The next four years will be a blur of all the good High School Things and hopefully the bumps won’t jostle any of us too hard. He will be fine.
None of us do transitions well, and some of the Big Feels about tomorrow have to do with just that: summer ends tonight and a new season–and a new school–start in the morning. But there’s more to it than that. He knows it, too: we met friends in the grocery store parking lot today; as they gasped that our ‘baby’ is entering high school, he looked directly at me and said, “Yah, I’m leaving you soon…”
We all laughed, but oh how this kid sees me!
I just noticed that he answered questions about the poem on the back of the sheet. His summary? “My kids are growing up and won’t snuggle with me in bed anymore.” Thank God he still snuggles with me. Not nightly as we once did, but occasionally. I think I will make it a point to be available for chit-chat and snuggles tonight.