The second time around
With the advent of my youngest starting high school on the way, I can’t help thinking how ready I feel for her new adventure.
With the first, it’s a guessing game, isn’t it?
We so hope we’re getting it right. Then we — after one (or several) mistakes — start to seriously question things: Could I have done that better?
If I had to do it all over again — and I do, this time with a girl rather than a boy — I’d say I’d like to parent with more confidence, with a sense of knowing where I stand on the issues that come our way.
Not the same
Already it’s different than it was with her brother.
She wanted to be the one to register for classes herself. She’s carefully done her research and weighed which honors classes she’ll take over the others.
In fact, she didn’t want me doing anything. She wanted to be the one to slowly touch the keys and sign herself up. It was slightly ceremonious, actually.
It was a change: I’m pretty confident I told my firstborn what he should take, AND stood over him while we signed him up.
Is it me?
So what’s different? Do I actually feel better about my parenting?
I think just knowing who to talk to at the high school if you have a question, or how to navigate the online grading system — and the busy rhythm of homework — is reassuring.
Indeed, I have a bit of knowledge. And I’m not so overwhelmed at the thought of my teen’s new stage, despite how very different it is than middle school.
Remember the folders of stuff that overwhelmed you during your kids’ elementary school?
There were flyers and reminders — and a million math worksheets and pieces of art. On top of this, you had to remember to pack a snack or, on others, try not forget the day you provided snacks for a whole class.
Or library bags. Somehow, I failed as a parent with that one. We always forgot that darn bag at home on library day.
Information slowly slips away as you parent your growing kids. The reason, of course, is that there’s no middle man/mom/dad: The information actually goes directly from teacher to student. And — get this — they’re responsible for it.
Indeed, it’s incredible to think how far my babies and I have come together. So I’m going to revel a bit.
I know I’m ready.
I have an independent, strong-minded daughter who already checks her own grades in the system and signs herself up for early morning help or retakes before I can even see the grades posted.
Boys and girls
We could argue all day about the differences between boys and girls. In my humble opinion, there’s a lot of information out there that can be helpful in regards to gender nuances. When it comes down to it, though, I think they’re just wired to be who they are, regardless.
In the past three months, I’ve been asked to braid or flat iron my daughter’s hair in the morning. Yes, this is my same soccer-playing daughter who’s wanted to wear only sports tees, sweats and jerseys for the past three years.
I’ve also tried not to notice the big sticky circle around her lips. Yes, she’s actually using her collection of lip balms.
She’s growing differently than her brother, yes.
But I’ve grown in my parenting, too.
So to all the parents out there, panicking — because, in a few months, they’ll be parenting a new middle schooler or high schooler — don’t fret.
You’ve got this.
Strap your belts on and be ready to laugh a lot and watch your hair go grey.
It’s a beautiful, wild ride.
And, by the way, if you have a daughter, I’d suggest a lesson on how to French braid.
Jennifer Wizbowski lives in Excelsior with her husband and two teenagers. Send comments, questions and story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.