Back To School

By Beck

I love this time of year – the changing leaves (well, any day now), the cooling temperatures (again, ANY day now), new pens and pencils and notebooks and bookbags and sweaters. Only one of my kids actually goes to school, but the back-to-school feeling prevails nonetheless.

My oldest. I write about her a lot, I think, but she’s quite the kid. I feel a pang that homeschooling wasn’t the right fit for her, but nothing like the much bigger pang I’d feel if I’d forced her to homeschool when it wasn’t working for her. She’s happy and doing well and while it does make my life a little bit more hectic, her happiness and wellness is well worth the tiny, tiny price I pay. And that is that.

She’s at the age where she’s changing every day – her looks, her personality – this underwater shift that gradually takes her away from the brief, vanishing island of childhood. It’s an interesting time and not at all the horrifying prospect we were warned about when we first had her (“Congratulations,” said one horrible acquaintance. “It’ll be the happiest ten years of your life.”). Change is scary but it doesn’t also follow that change is bad.

A friend told me that she spent some time with some friends from high school this weekend, and she was just shocked – they were still the same people. They lived in the same town, hung out with the SAME friends, dressed the same way, DATED the same people, did the same thing on weekends – as though the only thing that had changed over the past 20 years was their faces and the steady turning of the calendar’s pages. It was as though they’d decided at 15 that life was awesome, and their group goal should be to keep their lives as much like 15 as possible forever.

Excuse me, I have to go shudder in a corner.

There’s the funny opposite of that too, where someone feels the need to be better than their highschool self for the rest of their lives, but both groups are basing ONE four year stretch in LATE CHILDHOOD as the barometer for the rest of their lives, and whether it was a happy time or a  really REALLY awful time it’s still only four short years and not forever.

The leaves are turning red and gold and she still slips her hand into mine when we walk, so much older, so much still my baby. My Girl is changing; my Girl is the same.

9 Responses to Back To School
  1. Karen
    September 2, 2010 | 6:09 pm

    Well, Isaac and your girl are the same age. We can’t keep up with the changes – and yet, there he is! The same dear Isaac we always knew, quirky, adorable and very round-about in his communication style.

  2. LHash
    September 2, 2010 | 6:10 pm

    Congratulations,” said one horrible acquaintance. “It’ll be the happiest ten years of your life.”

    You know I’m going to use that line sometime. Because, yes, I am a horrible acquaintance.

  3. Nicole
    September 2, 2010 | 6:45 pm

    Ewwww…hahaha! I recently met up with some people I knew in high school, who are just exactly the same way that they were in high school, and upon meeting them again, I thought somewhat nastily “Ah! And that is why we lost touch.”

  4. Painted Maypole
    September 2, 2010 | 9:17 pm

    between being back in my home state AND Facebook I am reconnecting with many of my old HS friends and sort-of-friends, and shocked at how many of them are still so close, still live in the same small town.

  5. John Ross
    September 2, 2010 | 11:16 pm

    Ch’ch’ch’ch-changes! Great Post.

    “- this underwater shift that gradually takes her away from the brief, vanishing island of childhood. ” What a great line!

    ah yes, so familiar.

    My oldest, 29 now, is still the same sweet kid she was when she was 3, though she’s both tougher and occasionally sadder than she was then. She’s also smarter, more experienced Gand wiser. I often fined with people in general that usually habits may change, but character remains the same.

  6. John Ross
    September 2, 2010 | 11:17 pm

    and, not Gand.

  7. Kelly
    September 3, 2010 | 11:29 am

    Yes. I feel the same shudder at those who glorify the teenage years, as you know.

    Why is it that everything you write makes me want to cry, Beck? My oldest is younger than your oldest (I think; Natalie is 9), but I see the teen years on the horizon. She is a lovely girl, all giggles and sweetness with just a touch of drama. I can’t wait to see who she will grow into. But at the same time, I want her to stay here with me.

  8. Carrie
    September 4, 2010 | 9:53 pm

    Wow, I do not think back fondly on my teenage years, I just can’t imagine wanting to stay that way – but of course, I wasn’t in the ‘in crowd’ either! Great perspective that the teen years are so short – so true!!! My MIL always gets frustrated with people in stores who look at my adorable kids & say, “Oh, they’re so cute & fun – too bad they have to grow up!” – especially in front of their teen/tween kids! She responds – “Oh, I think they’re fun when they’re grown up, too!”

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