I have two teenage daughters and haven’t made it my mission to live through them. We all know parents who are reliving their childhood dreams through their children. I’m not one of those parents. My oldest daughter is a swimmer and my youngest swims and plays soccer. As it happens, I played both of those sports and finally gave up soccer in middle school when my coaches told me I needed to make a choice. I chose the pool full time. My oldest daughter chose to swim full time in third grade after she decided she didn’t like the other soccer players stealing the ball from her. And my daughter had also been in the water since she was a one year old floating in the surf on Maui and napping under a palm tree (yes, she had the best babysitter ever). My youngest daughter enjoys the social aspect of both sports and is one of the best teammates I’ve known.
The only drawback my girls have encountered is that they can’t complain to me about swimming a mile in a swim meet or getting kicked in the shins on the soccer field. They both know I actually do know how that feels and I admit there might be a lack of sympathy on my part. (I’m not living through my children, but I’m competitive and there’s a certain thrill when your kids achieve their own goals. And achieving goals happens with hard work and less whining. I do earn an eye roll or two from my girls with that line.)
Well, you can imagine my surprise when I found myself reliving my past with my daughter beside me last week. We were touring the high school my daughter will attend next year. As the cute, petite sophomore raced us through the school, I wanted to stop and ask the
men students loitering outside the classrooms for their
hall passes. And then check my chin for any new acne.
In less than five minutes and two corridors into the inner sanctum of high school, I was once again that awkward, anxious teen with a crush on the junior water polo player and no date to the prom. Something about being inside the high school brought out old insecurities and reminders of those growing pains teens all over the world endure: first broken heart, bad hair days, missed curfews, procrastinating on studying for that final exam, final exams, SATs and ACTs, college applications, gossip and figuring out who you are in a sea of kids all trying to figure who they are.
I’m not ashamed to admit I ran back to my car after our tour and was more than happy to look in the rearview mirror and remind myself that I had survived. And so will my daughter. Her experience won’t be mine, she’ll have to carve her own path. But she’ll make it and I’ll be right there to hold her hand if she stumbles.
Still I can’t help, but long for those kindergarten days again. When I sat at the art station and helped squeeze out the glitter glue for the butterfly project or baked cookies for snack. And I keep looking around for that pause button – the one that pauses time-I just need to press it for a moment until I’m ready for my girl to go to high school.
Is it any wonder my characters resist change – it’s hard, it isn’t always comfortable or welcome and yet it happens anyway.
And on a side note, my husband later informed me that the 80’s called and wanted their hall passes back. Apparently, hall passes are old school and no longer the thing. Lesson learned. I do wonder if my daughter’s school will have that one Assistant Principal that all the kids fear running into in the halls like we all did. You know the one that still traipses through your dreams to bust you for a dress code violation.
Until next time, I hope all your change is easy and uncomplicated.
THE CHARM OFFENSIVE by Cari Lynn Webb will be out in July. Pre-Order today! https://www.amazon.com/dp/0373368461
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