Though we toasted it simply, with a quick meal at our neighborhood Chinese restaurant, yesterday marked a significant milestone for Molly and me, the last day of her first year of high school.
She gave her freshman year a nine out of ten, which is high praise from someone who began the year getting cut from the volleyball team.
And that, though I’m loathe to give parental advice, is my message today.
Rest easy, mom and dad, your child can get cut from a team, fight with a friend, bomb a test, lose an entire band uniform, wear white socks with sandals on the first day of school, drop the baton during a relay race twice in one track meet, miss the bus, drop an AP class, accidentally offend a teacher and still genuinely enjoy high school.
I know this because, among my four children, someone has managed each of these. I am the mother of a daughter who did not make the spring show her freshman year, and earned the school’s drama award three years later. I claim the son in whose face the football coach screamed through four years of high school, and the other who’s wrestling career lasted one awkward season.
I have stood beaming on many occasions during my children’s entertaining run through high school. I also have turned quickly away to blink back tears.
I’m not minimizing the sometimes visceral pain a parent can feel when a child genuinely hurts.
I’m saying it fades quickly if you let it.
Encourage your children to try, to find their own gifts and develop them. Be proud of the stumbles that lead to the strides, embrace the heart-aches that develop the drive.
High school can be magical, but it’s just one stop on a thrilling ride and man oh man does it speed past.
Find the joy (and the lost band uniform), cleanse the wounds, toast the triumphs and know that the nervous 13-year old who walks through those doors for the first time is going to be just fine.