Monday, August 22, 2011


I am a sentimental girl. I get teary pretty easily, much to my own annoyance sometimes.

But I am not a crier at kids' milestones. I didn't cry when Garrett stepped onto the bus the first day of kindergarten; I most certainly did NOT follow the bus to school and believe me, I rolled my eyes at the idiot parents who disobeyed the request of the school district and did follow the bus.

I was (and am) proud of the fact that my kids (all 3) were ready, excited, and perfectly competent to enter into the world of school. (Okay, I cried a tiny bit when Spencer got on the bus, but it was more because he is the last one than that I was sad he was going.)

I LOVE to see the things they learn every day. I love seeing them discover their own strengths. I make them make phone calls; to the eye doctor to see if the new glasses are ready, to the orthodontist to ask if we can pick up more rubber bands. They are capable humans, and I feel like my biggest job is helping them not only BE capable, but to trust themselves and know they can handle things, knowing that I am there to back them up if need be.

So I didn't expect to be suddenly overcome with emotion in the high school cafeteria this evening during schedule pickup.

I didn't anticipate the sudden drop my stomach would take, the overwhelming urge I had to grab my friend Cathy's hand and tell her, "I need someone to hold my hand" (a joke we've been making for a while since she is the parent of a junior at this school). I did NOT expect my eyes to fill with tears at the prospect of my son, this boy I have held for almost 14 years, starting high school.

He was oblivious to it, thank goodness. He was already off with an upperclassman, a captain of the football team, who was going to help him find his locker and figure out where all the classrooms are. We had planned to do that together, he and I. Instead I dried my tears and went to a parent meeting, signed up for the Booster Club, and talked to Student Nutrition Services.

Fourteen years. He has made me laugh, made me cry, filled me with such hopelessness (Is he EVER going to potty train? Is he EVER going to pick up the damn Legos? Is he EVER going to stop fighting with his brothers?), and filled me with such unspeakable pride and joy (his meeting the President of the United States, Barack Obama, earlier this year was certainly a highlight).

He is so smart. Got his dad's aptitude for math. Loves wordplay and puzzles, like me. He is a rockhound. He loves fishing and, when given a book about fly tying and a few supplies, turned out a dozen or more in a weekend. He loves nature, the color green, the feeling of being in the woods. In the quiet. In his head.

He is talkative, but he won't share things that worry or wound him; those I must carefully draw out, or guess, and trust that there are others with whom he will share those things. He is a good friend; he gets along with other kids and has some really close relationships, with boys and girls, that I think I treasure even more than he does.

He is fourteen tomorrow, embarking on a whole new adventure. High school is a place to grow, to learn, to try new things, to discover who you want to be. He is ready to fly.

And when the day comes, I'll be ready to cheer him on. The crying has to be done; this kid? He's gonna conquer the world. This milestone? It's really just the beginning.

And I can't wait to watch it all unfold.

Happy birthday, Garrett. You are an amazing human being and I am so incredibly grateful that I am your mom.

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