I know what you're thinking.
How could Sugar's little girly Sugar Cube be in high school already? I mean, wasn't THIS just yesterday?
Last spring, my daughter and I enrolled her in the local public high school. Since then, I've been walking around with a head full of irrational fears for her and questioning my choices for the last 13 years of her life.
Should I have started her in school earlier than she was supposed to?
Should I have homeschooled her this long?
Should I transfer her to a district where we know more people?
Is she going to eat lunch all alone forever?
I started polling friends to see if anyone knew any other kids that were going to the same school. Someone that could show her the ropes... take her under their wing... protect her from mean girls!
One of her friends nearly registered for the same school. She's from a very conservative family who has also been homeschooling. (Side note: We're not that conservative, but I think you already knew that.) My daughter's friend really wanted to go to public school, so after giving her mom information about why it was a good idea and doing some research on the school itself, she agreed that they should talk to the dad, who is a stodgy military guy, so I thought, it's not going to happen.
I could NOT believe it when her dad said yes!
My daughter came jumping into my room, so excited and yelling, "Abby is going to school with me!!!" Oh, what a relief! Apparently, all this time, she was just acting cool about not knowing anyone, but, she confessed, she really was nervous and afraid of not knowing anyone. I admitted that I was worried about that, too, but now we didn't have to be because YAY... her bestie would be going to school with her and my daughter wouldn't have to eat lunch alone!
And then we found out that it was too late... the class was full and her bestie could only register at the scary school that looks like a prison that nobody wants to send their kid to. So she's staying at home.
We pretended it was cool, but we both had said it out loud, and it was too late to pretend anymore.
On registration day a week before classes started, we spent the day on campus picking up schedules, P.E. clothes, locks for lockers, and getting pictures for her school I.D. The whole time, we scanned the campus for anyone that looked familiar. We thought we caught a glimpse of a face we recognized once, but we were wrong. I felt like Bugs Bunny dying of thirst in the desert and running to drink water from a lake only to find out it was a mirage.
After a few hours, we were at the end of our registration process. I could feel my daughter's nervousness. It was looming over us all over campus. We went into the final stop, the school store. As we were about to pay for her P.E. uniform, one of the girls behind the counter turned High School Musical 2 on... FABULOUS! My daughter and I started singing along with them. I need, I need... I need, I need...
Come on, you know you know the words!
The girls told my daughter that they always listen to High School Musical in the ASB Club, then told her a little about becoming a Student at Large. I had more questions for them, but bit my tongue and let her have the conversation with them. No, I'm serious... I literally bit my tongue. How else do you think I get myself to stop talking? She was so excited about talking to them about getting involved. Her anxiety vanished and there was my sweet, beautiful, confident daughter.
Watching her have a grown kid conversation was a relief. I thought, Okay yeah... maybe she won't have anyone to eat lunch with the first week (*wince*), but I think she'll be okay.
We went to Tilly's right after for our semi-ish annual backpack purchase. She hasn't had a new backpack in years, and she was in dire need. I picked out a few bags that I thought she would totally like, but she chose something that I swear her older 20-something sister would have picked. I tried not to think about her growing up and moving away, too, and instead thought about how expensive backpacks are.
BTW: Holy cow, fifty bucks, are you serious?
Since I'm all about last minute shopping, we waited a week to go to Target for a few school supplies and some clothes. She chose items that were approved in the Student Manual, because, Oh my lanta, she read it. Cover to cover. She chose two shirts that were cute and fun and fit the dress code. She didn't even try to sneak in a spaghetti strap top!
And then she went to a pool party all night. Because my girl knows how to end the summer with a bang.
The next morning, I hit snooze too many times and then panicked. I felt the worst pit in my stomach. When I opened my bedroom door to tell her to get up and get dressed, I saw that her bedroom light was already on and she was in the bathroom doing her hair. I rushed to get dressed and do my hair. As I finished the last curl, I remembered that I hadn't packed her lunch.
I ran to the kitchen and as I rounded the corner, I saw that she had already made her sandwich and was putting it and her snacks in her lunchbox. I don't know what came over me, but I took the sandwich out and started cutting the crust off. "Mom, NOOOO!" But she hates the crust, I told her. And I was going to make her lunch. And I was going to pack her snacks. And I was...
And I was having a hard time that morning realizing she didn't need me. Not to wake her up. Not to pack her bag for her. Not to help her with her hair. Not even to cut the crusts.
But she still needed me to get her to school on time, and I was just about to fail at that. We jumped in the car and headed out early enough to not deal with too much chaos in the carpool lane. She wasn't really into taking a First-Day-of-School picture and I didn't want to embarrass her, but I did manage to snap a shot through my dirty car window as she walked up to the main entrance.
I sat there in my car and watched her walk away into the sea of tall people until she disappeared past the administration building.
And then I cried. Like a complete idiot, I cried. I hoped no other moms in the carpool lane were watching me cry, but maybe they were doing the same thing. I cried more at my desk later. Part of the crying was because she's growing up and -- oh dear God I can't believe I'm going to say this -- she's not my little baby any more. But part of the tears were just nerves.
Would she find her classes?
Would she run into anyone she knew?
Would she be...
I spent all day with my stomach in a painful knot. I honestly thought I was going to throw up. She texted me throughout the day. One that she was doing well and that she was finding her classes. Another telling me she sat next to some people that she knew from her short stint in public school a few years ago. She couldn't find anyone at lunch, so we texted some more. She texted on her way home, telling me she had made it to her bus, and she texted when she got home.
Then she sent this text.
And that's when I knew we were both going to be okay.