I sit and watch her go, freshly dyed ebony black and lime green hair streaming behind her. The hair almost matches the emerald green shoes, with just enough difference in shade to keep it interesting. She has grown so much over the last few years and I as I sit there I realize we have entered yet another stage of this adventure we call childhood, except she is no longer a child in many ways. She is off to high school and I am sitting in my car, and that sniffling noise you hear is most certainly not me fighting off tears.
This year the Intrepid Junior Blogger entered high school as a Grade Ten student. Watching her bounce up the sidewalk with confidence in her stride reminded me of all the “first days” over the last ten years, every single one of them at schools within the Fort McMurray Public School District. She is now a Westwood High School student, one of the many entering those doors that will arrive as new students and leave as graduates.Parenting is full of trepidation. You worry if they will find friends, if they will meet the expectations of their teachers in terms of academics and behaviour and if they will be happy. It is always such a tremendous relief when they are happy, and I am so incredibly grateful that the IJB has begun this new adventure, the final chapter of her educational life here, with happiness.
“How were the first two days?” I ask.“Terrific!” she exclaims.
“Terrific?” I ask. “Like, really terrific?”I am surprised only because the IJB is not typically effusive about most things, being far more reserved than her mother who loves everything almost indiscriminately. The IJB is far more careful and measured in her evaluations, and few things beyond her pets, some select websites and her beloved computer games are deemed “terrific”.
“Yep, terrific,” she says. “I love my new English teacher, she is amazing. And my French teacher? She speaks almost only in French, it’s great. The school has a 3-d printer so my CAD course should be pretty cool. And hey, do you know what an isotope is? How about atomic weight, do you know what that is?”I pause because while I studied chemistry long ago I do not recall the fine details, and so she patiently explains isotopes and atomic weights and shows me how she has to memorize the first 32 elements of the periodic table.
She is happy, engaged and excited about her first semester in high school, and I am so equally happy and grateful I almost find myself in tears.When I went to the orientation for students pursuing AP courses I suspected the IJB would love her teachers and her classes. I pretty much fell in love with the teachers myself, wishing I had teachers like them in high school, brimming with enthusiasm for their subjects and students. I had a few teachers like that, especially my English teacher who not only taught me to write but to strive to excel. It was those teachers I remember, the ones who shaped my school experience and who even now I think about on occasion – but that was then, and this is now, and my high school days are long over. The IJB’s have just begun.
I think perhaps it is not always easy to be my kid. On occasion the IJB will comment on how strange it is when her friends say they read my blog, or when people recognize her and refer to her as “Theresa’s daughter”. The IJB is very much her own person, with a strength and resiliency and character that is all her own and in some ways much like me and in many ways far, far different.“Oh, and one of the teachers stopped me in the hallway to tell me she loves my shoes,” says the IJB and grins at me, her love of good shoes, especially the Fluevogs we both adore, written on her face.
I grin back because while she is her own person and quite different from me this apple has not fallen far from this particular tree.
As the venerable Dr. Seuss wrote, today is her day. She is off to great places. She is off and away.