Tomorrow is the first day of school and Mod Squad Pete’s senior year. Just like every other school year, he’s raring to go, ready to see friends (including teachers as well as peers), get back into the routine (even though it cuts down on the pool and sports club time), and [perhaps] thinking there won’t be any real work required for a while.
I’ve written a lot about the college application and SAT prep work we expected of him over the summer. He may not agree (though he doesn’t often say much on this site), but I think he found a somewhat happy medium between the amount of work he wanted to do (close to zero?) and the amount we wanted him to do (close to final draft on how many essays?).
Ok, enough with the parenthetic comments. Here’s what I’m thinking and bear with me, please, it’s a bit of a ramble.
Annie Dillard wrote a truly wonderful book, The Maytrees, about the breakup of a marriage and a friendship when the husband moved away with the best friend, followed twenty years later by the first wife helping the husband care for the very ill second wife. Trust me, it’s a wonderful, spare story of enduring love.
In one scene the first wife, Lou, sees their adult son and wishes he could be in the same room with all his former selves: the three year old, the adolescent, and so on. They were all such great guys; what a joy it would be to see them together. [Apologies to any other Dillard fans for however I may have misremembered this scene.] This scene has stuck with me for years; something about it captured the ongoing loss of parenting, as the child moves through stages, leaving behind younger versions of him or her self.
I see the tall, funny Mod Squad Pete today, talking blithely of ‘next year when I won’t be here’ and remember the younger fellow in preschool, elementary, and middle school, then another one three years ago as a freshman.
So here’s one of the delights of parenting: watching our child mature, as he realizes more of his self and shares it with us. How can he be thinking of moving on, just as this stage gets to be more and more fun? What in the world would we do if he wasn’t thinking of moving on — how awful would it be to have to push him on to the next step?
This is a post with no to-do lists, no reminders, no gentle nudges. Just an appreciation for the boy* who brings such delight to our lives and a wish for a great, safe, fun senior year.
*Worry not, children, Mod Squad Julie and Linc are in my thoughts, too.