My father has an amazing ability to recall facts, formulas, stories and quotes. He is a big science fiction fan and from the beginning of high school, whenever we would whine about things, he would tell us we just might be reaching childhood’s end. Then he would encourage us to read the 1953 science fiction book of the same name by Arthur C. Clarke. I never did read that book.
Today I think my children notched another significant moment in their loss of childhood. On this first day of school, my daughter started middle school and my son is officially a freshman in high school. I do believe this was a harder day for me than when either of them went off to kindergarten.
My daughter and I went to Meet the Teacher day on Tuesday and met her two-teacher team. They were organized and professional and obviously ready for the kids to come. We had a true right of passage with our first locker and the pressure of memorizing a combination. Her friends told her she was with the HARD teachers! Ha – GOOD!! We picked out our clothes last night but had to get up early this morning to straighten her hair. Just so you know, this child’s hair is already straight – just not straight enough. Ugh. Who am I to make her go to the first day of school without perfectly straight hair? A friend of hers came this morning and my husband dropped them off together so they wouldn’t have to go in the first day alone. They came bouncing into my classroom after school to tell me what a fabulous day they had. One down, 179 to go.
My son and I prepared for his high school adventure by walking his schedule and meeting his teachers on Monday. Our school has over 1500 students and it is very spread out so I made him come back on the teacher work day yesterday and walk his schedule one more time. This morning he rode to school with me and we got to my room about 30 minutes before school started. I asked him if he would like to hang out in my room for a while and he declined. He walked off down the hall in search of kids he knew.
That was it. There he went. My kid who had been diagnosed with Autism 10 years ago, who I worried wouldn’t have a friend, who I feared wouldn’t understand enough social cues to maneuver this place I had called home for so long, who I loved more fiercely in these potentially distressing situations… there he went. There are cry rooms set up in some elementary schools for the parents after they leave their darlings in kindergarten; I really needed one of those rooms. I went so far today as to pick up the phone to call one of his teachers during their lunch to see how his day had gone. I hung it up before actually making the call.
My son came by my room at the end of the day and he looked unscathed. For the past 10 years my biggest fear had been the lunchroom; this is the first time kids don’t have to sit with their class. I casually asked how lunch went – did he find some kids to eat with? He gave me a puzzled look. Why was I worried, that look seemed to say? He was fine. I obviously have not given him enough credit. Things have come so far in these last 10 years.
At every childhood’s end is a new beginning. I wonder if that is the theme of that book? I promise I’ll read it sometime, Dad. Love you.
~ The Mildly Manic Mom