I experienced my first real dose of senioritis today. No, it wasn’t my son cutting a class (although he’s been known to do that this year), nor was it him joyriding, being huffy and non-communicative, or staying out past curfew.
No, it happened when I was looking at his high school website, actually looking up something for my daughter who will be attending the school next year, when a page for seniors caught my eye. It held several links to important information for seniors – about prom, about finals, and about graduation.
And that’s when it really hit me. He’s graduating. This year.
And I started to cry.
Later, reading the health section of the Washington Post, there was an article about how we, as a society, should be thinking about how to better combat senioritis and create a more productive last term of high school for our American seniors. Aftrer eading that, I started to cry again.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have spent most of this year, my oldest child’s final year in high school and at home, pretty much in the mindset of “don’t let the door hit you as you leave.” My friends who have gone through this have told me that this is natural – our seniors’ behavior in their last full year living at home often is so atrocious, so mean-spirited and icky, that we want them to leave.
But it’s really only their way of getting ready to leave. They need to push away, to create space between themselves and their parents, and their friends. They need to know that it’s ok to leave it behind – that they’re ready to launch.
They also need to know that there’s still a safety net, and that no matter what happens when they jump, there will be a safe place for them to fall, when and if they do.
All of this makes psychological sense to me. And I think I have done a pretty good job of not taking my son’s recalcitrant behavior personally, even though I have been the primary target of his cursing under his breath, his heavy sighs and his silence. It pains him to breathe the air I breathe.
But clearly that hasn’t stopped my own emotional clock from ticking away, knowing that in just a few short months, he is going to pack up his stuff and move to a college dorm room in another state. Gone will be the messy, always-half-open drawers of his dresser, with jeans and socks tumbling out. Gone will be the watch collection, lined up on his desk. Gone will be the scents of his boy toiletries, as well as the blue toothpaste cemented onto the sink. Gone will be the sound of his key in the lock after we have already gone to bed.
He will have to get himself up each and every day for classes (without the mom safety net.) He will have to learn how to feed himself, organize everything in his life, and balance school and friendships in a new environment, without being bolstered by the loving and wonderful close friends who have surrounded him since he was young.
I know that he’s ready. I know that we’re ready. I will indeed be grateful to no longer be the punching bag for a child who is ready to step off and grab a new adventure, pushing me aside so that he can tackle whatever comes his way on his own.
But thinking about that day, just two-plus short months from now, when he walks across that stage and gets his diploma – well, it shakes me up. All that we have done for him, all that we have invested in him. All the pride, all the frustration, all the education, all the love. It will all be splayed across that stage as we, seated from far away, watch him take his parchment and march on.
I will be cheering. And crying. And continuing to love him from afar and up close and every which way for the rest of his life. This is a case of senioritis that I guess I’ll just have to live with, for it is my own.
Photo courtesy of bingfoundation.blogspot.com