Letting Go

The classrooms at my children's previous school all had exterior doors–connected to the other parts of the building by breezeways or an overhang of the roof. The logic as explained to me by someone claiming to know: In the event of, say, a psycho loose on the school grounds, all the doors lock down and at most he might have gained entry to one classroom; in the event of fire, all classrooms have direct access to the outdoors and a fire in one room takes time to spread to, the room next door–not down a hallway or up or down stairs like it would have in the multi-storied structures that housed my elementary education. 
Oh, and it was really easy to show your kid how to find his classroom: Look, if you stand by the big slide and look straight ahead–that's your door.
The new elementary school is built like a digital zero–with an interior courtyard and a hallway that loops all the way around to meet up with itself at the front entrance. The classrooms, bathrooms, library, etc.,  open off either side of the hallway. Easier to get from one place to another, especially during inclement weather. If you know where you're going. On opening night we were rather turned around, but we kept following the hallway knowing that all roads did indeed lead to China–or at least the classrooms in question. 
But I confess I was a little worried about my six-year-old on his first day–would he be able to find his classroom in the morning crush? And what would he do, if not? My first two children would have reverted to fetal position. My third would have cried. Fourth and Fifth, well, they have other children on their bus and in their class that they already know. 
So after his first day, I asked him how he found his classroom. "I asked Juli's mom." Duh, Mom. 
I did utter a silent prayer of thanks for Juli's mom being there, handy when he got off the bus, but I also realized that this kid–he'd probably just ask someone, anyone: "Hey. HEY. HEY! Where's my classroom?" And he'd keep asking until he got an answer. 
Twenty-four-hour immersion in a daycare setting the past three years has done that to him; he trusts all sorts of people. Nobody is a stranger because strangers come in and out of his house all the time and Mom treats them all like family. 
Disconcerting. Good and bad both, on so many levels. 
And then my oldest tells me she is taking Sports Med. Good. Great, in fact. It's a semester-long, hands-on apprenticeship involving first-aid, CPR, physical therapy, and all those other things involving, I don't know, concussions and such. Her first homework assignment was to rip an entire roll of athletic tape into tiny little squares and build a tower. This so her fingers would be sufficiently calloused before the next football game, allowing her to wrap an ankle quickly without whining over her own blisters. 
I went to a football game once. I had hoped that was enough for one lifetime–my own and maybe my children's, too. But she wants to be a doctor. She needs a scholarship–and has no more interest in sports than I do, so she needs some of this extra-curricular stuff on her transcript. The class, you see, requires that she spend a minimum of 8 hours every week on duty at practices or games. One hundred and fifty hours total.  At an athletic event. Insert shudder! She even gets "a letter" for her pains. Whatever that is. I think it's like some kind of trophy, only softer and cuddlier and you sew it to your coat–which, now that I think of it, I imagine I'll probably get to pay an arm and a leg for, I don't know. 
Anyway. So I'm bracing myself for a semester of late nights and after school pick-ups; I can do this for the greater good. And then last, night, on the way home at 8:30 pm she says–oh so casually, "Hey, Mom. The teacher signed me up for the game in Coeur D'Alene tomorrow."
"Coeur D'Alene?
"Should I take your cell phone with me so you know when to pick me up?"
I'm trying to remember how far away Coeur D'Alene is from here. Two hours? Three? "Um. That's the phone number all the daycare parents call," I tell her. "Won't anyone else in your class have a phone?"
"Nobody else in my class is going."
"Well, your teacher will have a phone, right?"
"The teacher doesn't go either."
What? 
"Will you know anyone else who is going?" Or are you seriously telling me my fourteen-year old-daughter is going to spend something like ten hours with the high school football team tomorrow, on a bus en route to a strange town?!! In Kindergarten you'd have spent the entire ride under the seat in the fetal position! 
Only that's the problem–you didn't go to Kindergarten, did you? You were a head and shoulders taller than all the other   barely five-year-old children and you could read at a sixth grade level and so we put you right into first grade and ever since then you've been straining at the bit. 
And now you look like you're seventeen and you're determined to be a doctor before your twenty-first birthday and you are taking all the hardest classes and acing them and I'm terrified that inside, you are still just a little girl and nobody else will realize that. You are fourteen! You still want me to make all your phone calls for you and you don't even like to butter your own toast. 
I sent the cell phone with her. What else could I do? I set it so that all daycare related calls will be forwarded to my home phone and showed her how to change that later today so that I can harass her during the game and have her read the mile posts to me on the way home. 
These are the things I know: I am not comfortable with this. They are leaving at 1:30. The game starts at 5:00. She'll call me when they get close.
What does that mean?  I swear that one game I attended lasted six hours.  I'm going to be up past my bedtime, people! 
What was that breathing pattern they taught us in Lamaze, again?

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5 responses to “Letting Go

  • Grandma-P

    You can get through this momma you really can, I have confidence in you! Just keep saying to yourself moms are tough, moms are tough.

  • Rex

    The eldest is the hardest. By the time the 8th child gets to high school, you are saying "Isn't there a game you need to attend?" or "Why are you home tonight?" When my eldest turned 14 and wanted to go to dances, games, musicals or "French trips to Edmonton" , etc; I thought I would never survive. But it all works out and you learn to trust that the hours(years) you have spent as a loving parent will make a difference. They do grow up and it is wonderful.

  • Kimber

    Exactly–my first thought was to say, no way, you're too young, but then I thought, If she isn't old enough to make good choices by now then when? By fourteen, hopefully enough teaching will have gotten through!

  • Ginger

    teach them and they will govern themselves. Then I pray like Alma's father and try to do better with the younger 2. I miss u and yours. I really wish we could be closer. I want them to go to EFy together next year. We need to register in Jan

  • Kimber

    Hola! What have you been up to? Definitely remind me in January–I know I'll forget!

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