By Randi Crawford
Knowing that our child’s graduation was fast approaching, I wanted to write something about the experience. At the beginning of the year, I went to our school’s Open House and silently wept most of the night because this was our daughter’s last year in this school. She basically grew up with this community of people that have become like family to us.
I couldn’t stop thinking about how sad I was going to be when the day finally came that she would move on to high school. It was just yesterday that I sent her off to pre-pre-school at the tender age of 2. What was I thinking?
When she was only 4 years old, the school told me that she had mastered everything and was ready for kindergarten. My husband and I had nothing to compare it to, and she was our oldest, so we went with their advice. This is funny: I remember that we had a birthday party for her within the first two weeks of starting school, and she received birthday cards that read, “Happy 6th Birthday.” It took my husband and me a few moments to understand that she was the only child who was turning 5 years old.
Our daughter is (and has always been), the youngest kid in her class. So many people analyze the pros and the cons of holding a child back, but we never did. We took the advice from her preschool and sent her straight to kindergarten. We both worked full time and, frankly, we never gave it a second thought.
Fast forward to this past weekend and, here she is, 13 years old, and she just graduated from the eighth grade. She’s officially going to high school in the fall, and that’s something that I always thought happened to other people. Now I’m one of them. Crazy, I know. But here’s the strange part. On the day of her graduation, I wasn’t emotional, crying or freaking out. In fact, she was so happy that it made me happy. I looked at her with so much pride that crying wasn’t an option. To know me is to know that I worry about things that haven’t even happened and may never happen. I create scenarios in my head and then I worry about them, and they are all fiction! Don’t ask — it’s a terrible quality, and one that I need to work on.
I went to a party with my husband the night after the graduation, and heard varying degrees about how scary high school can be. People all like to say things like, “Oh Randi, there’s sex and drugs everywhere, you just have to hope you’ve done your job.” Or you might talk to two parents (of the same child), and find they each have a completely different take on what it’s really like when your kid starts high school. One parent will tell you the horrors, while the other tells you that it’s the greatest thing that’s happened to their family. I’m confused.
Last year, I spoke with a good friend whose daughter had moved on from our school to high school with so much grace. I asked her how she was dealing with it. She looked at me and said, “Randi, this is life! Would you prefer that she was held back? You want her to move forward. Stop worrying about what could happen — it’s not going to do you any good.” I walked away from that conversation thinking that she was a lunatic. How could she think that I wouldn’t worry that my daughter was going to high school (in a year)?
Fast forward to this past weekend. I saw this same mom and reminded her about our conversation. She also had remembered it and asked me how I was dealing with the process. I suppose she was right. It’s surreal that I’m old enough to have a kid going off to high school in the fall, but here we are. We can’t worry about what hasn’t happened, or try to think about everything that could happen. This is life and it’s full of change and risk and opportunity, and as I type this I’m getting nauseated. OMG, I have a kid going to high school in the fall!
Are any of you here yet? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.