My daughter is a freshman in high school. It’s really no big deal. It’s just another year of school. I mean, I’m sorry to disappoint all the people who ask me about it REPEATEDLY and expect some big reaction, but it is nothing really.
OK, so they learn to drive at a time when their brain cells are not fully formed. Why should I worry about that? I learned how to drive when I was fifteen and I didn’t have issues with it. There was that one time when I inadvertently passed a school bus and was dragged out of step aerobic class to be questioned by the police, and had to go to court and pay a $150 fine and I thought my world was ending. But besides that, nothing of note happened. My old high school friends may be quick to remind me of that other time that they convinced me to drive ninety minutes away to an “under 21” dance club, and we met boys that were way too old for us and drove on highways that we had no business driving on while we smoked Virginia Slims cigarettes. But, other than that, there is nothing to worry about. Well there is the texting. Hmm, I forgot about the texting. OK, besides the lack of brain cells, peer pressure, naiveté, misguided fearlessness, smoking, and the temptation of texting, it’s just a car with my baby in it. Who just a short time ago (it seems) I was securely fastening into her booster seat. It’s really no big deal.
Now you are probably asking yourself, “Well, what about the boys?” I am here to tell you that my daughter is NOT interested in boys. She has been in class with these rowdy little boys with their scraped knees and messy hair talking about video games, and kicking dirt at each other for years. I’ll admit that they are tall and a bit muscular now and have cute little “boy band” haircuts and smell like Axe body spray, but that doesn’t change anything. After all, I had a boyfriend at her age, and he was perfectly sweet and never tried to…hmmm…never mind about that. The point I am trying to make is that they are just tall, handsome versions of the same little boys that she’s been friends with for years. It’s really no big deal.
I’m certainly not worried about her schoolwork. She’s always liked school and has done well. Sure, there might be a little more accountability, a little more competition, and a little more pressure to get into a college that she likes and start mapping out her future. Perhaps she might feel that she has to constantly prove her worth by scoring high, doing well on tests, and on other educational fronts that could lead to stress and anxiety. But other than that, it’s really no big deal.
I know that she will have her friends with her and the bonds of friendship are solid. I understand that girls her age have a tendency to make every relation seem complex, and even the beautiful bond of friendship established early in grade school could end up on shaky grounds. My daughter may love her best friend one moment and might pick an ugly fight with her the next. She may not have the social skills to defend herself against bullying, or being taken advantage of by envious, insecure, or just down right mean girls. By the time she is 30…OK 40, she’ll figure out what a toxic friend is, and it will be OK so it’s really no big deal.
Listen, she probably will be a bit too focused on her appearance. Most teenage girls are, but that’s normal right? I’m well aware that her body will change drastically and that she will have to fight against hormones and a relentless bombardment of media messages that constantly sexualize and devalue her. All the grown women I currently know fight against that, and we are managing just fine. Well, sure, we may not be satisfied with the way we look, constantly apologize for our appearance, vilify food, strive for the unattainable, and fight sexism every day, but surely that has nothing to do with any experience we had in our formative high school years, right? It’s really not a big deal.
I’ll wrap up here by letting you all know that I am fine. That look on my face next time you ask me how it feels to have a kid in high school is not one of fear, pride, anxiety, nostalgia, sadness, joy, or helplessness. I probably just ate something that didn’t agree with me for lunch. You are reading too much into my psyche I bet.
Furthermore, just so we are clear, if I happen to stay up listening for her car to pull into the driveway or keep glancing at my phone for a text from her, it’s only because I had work to do anyway or a book I’ve been wanting to read. When I see her look at a boy the way I looked at my first boyfriend and my heart sinks because I know “that look” and the power it has to block out any prior advice, warnings, or logic I’ve tried to instill in her, it’s really no big deal. When I seemingly start to panic because she is looking at colleges and I realize she will be leaving our house in a blink of an eye, I’m probably just pretending that it’s earth shattering. I assure you, I’ve wanted to make her room into a yoga studio or crafting room anyway (I neither craft nor do yoga…but whatever).
In fact, I’m not even affected by writing this blog post. It was easy to write. My eyes are only swollen and red because I probably need new contact lenses. Also, don’t read into the fact that tonight I may slip into her room to watch her sleep, smell her hair, and tuck her favorite childhood stuffed dog under her chin. So she’s a freshman in High School. I can’t even believe it warrants an entire blog post. I mean considering it’s really no big deal.