No, not the “where did I leave my keys?” (which I am doing more and more of these days) but this senior moment is my daughter leaving the house for her first day of school. Her senior year of high school, that is. If you still have a young children who are getting ready for their first day of school, relish it. By the time they become a senior, the first day back, it’s all different.
There is no pulling out the camera for a picture of my little cutie in long blonde pigtails, wearing her matching pink and purple gar-animals outfit. No big cheesy smile (with or without teeth or braces), happily standing for any number of poses she makes at my command. No, that’s not happening. (However, we have made progress because I know better than to even get out the camera phone and potentially start a war). Come to think of it, I bet I didn’t even use a camera phone back in the day, it was probably a real, honest to goodness camera!
The night before the big day I make a roast beef sandwich and place it in the refrigerator. No chips, no themed lunchbox. Just a little sandwich in a plastic baggie in the frig. It looks lonely in there. Or is it me that’s feeling a little puny?
I ask if she’d like me to make a PB&J for her, to have ready for breakfast. “No, I’ll eat a breakfast bar.” Did we have breakfast bars 10 years ago? If so, probably only strawberry flavored. This week the favorite is crunchy pretzel, nuts and caramel. Anything to grab and eat on the go. Certainly there is no time or preference for bowls of captain crunch (oh, I think that was me, not her!) No cocoa puffs. No cut up banana. Nuthin’.
As we ready for bed, I wish her a great first day back at school for her senior year. I get a sideways hug. (My least favorite part of having an older “child”). Less and less physical contact, less and less time together. Independence reigns.
I go to my bed to read. She goes to hers, probably to check Facebook or have face time with a friend. (No cuddling together to share a children’s storybook). I can’t get to sleep. I get up a number of times and see that she can’t sleep either. We’ve been we’ve been rolling back bed time in preparation for her VERY early wake up call and neither of our bodies have figured out why we’re already in bed. It’s only ten at night now and that’s an early bed time for my teenager. That’s just about the time her summer evening begins, as friends would just be available for chat time, after they get off work!
So begins a restless night as I worry she’ll sleep through her alarm because she has to be up by 5 a.m. (to catch a 6 a.m. bus for a 7 a.m. start time). She took a shower this evening (without direction, one positive for the older set) , thereby saving a precious few minutes in the morning to get ready. However instead of pigtails or sleeping in rollers for curly locks, she has put on eyeliner because it will wear off and be just right for the a.m. Who knew?
After waking up every hour or so, I open my eyes to see a clock reading 5:30. It is eerily quiet. Oh no, she has overslept! I run into her room, trying to leave my anxiety behind and see she is laying calmly in her bed. “Good morning, Mom.” “Good morning, it’s 5:30 you better get up.” And she does. No argument, no fussing.
Unlike just a few years ago I do no reminding or hurrying her along. I trust she will pack in her dressings and preparations in just fifteen minutes by the time her Dad picks her up to drive her to her bus stop. The bus shuttles her to her High School with a specialized program, Bio Medical and Allied Health. Yep, she’s studying medical programs in High School, that’s Medical Rounds, Internships, etc in addition to math, science, English. And, this year if there is any oversleeping, she can actually drive HERSELF to school (another perk of senior year.)
But I still miss the school lists, find just the right rulers, crayons and pencils for her. I miss the mall shopping searching for the cutest-ever new looks for girls. I miss finding a new backpack and lunchbox with childhood themed decorations (101 Dalmatians, Little Mermaid, Hello Kitty and even the year of camouflage).
I miss the shared excitement of the new year as we pick out her favorite outfit, pack the lunchbox and the back pack. I miss the nighttime bed time story while we predict her teacher and friends for the coming year. I miss picking out her favorite cereal and making it for her in the morning. Watching her eat while she watches her cartoons. Chatting together as I hold her hand on her way to school. And yes, I miss her happily posing for the first day of school photos, on my camera.
But alas, it is senior year. The pony tailed, Little Mermaid carrying girl has turned into a fine young woman. She wears her black T-shirt, black jeans and snap back hat with confidence. Stuffing her sandwich, breakfast bar and bottle of water in her boring blue backpack she traipses out the door. My note is on the counter, “Have a great first day of your senior year. Love, Mom.” I don’t think she even saw it. But it’s there, just like my love and pride for her. She’s still, and always will be my little girl.
First day of her senior year. There is no picture to capture the moment, but I do have a vision of it in my mind. A fine young woman, getting ready to tackle the world. Beautiful.