I normally write twelve hours from now when I can be comfortably ensconced in my Blue-Chair with Ugly-Cat perched next to my right elbow before she has determined that I have spent enough time distracted and need to spend more time petting her. Then, she’ll arrogantly walk across the keyboard, her little kitty paws making the cursor spaz and do a funny little boogaloo.
Right now, I am writing for distraction, for catharsis. Because somewhere below me, the Boy is going through freshman orientation.
Yeah, I wrote about this last night. But that was as a mom and a teacher who wasn’t used to having her son in the same building as herself.
I keep on telling myself that I was ready for this. The Boy and I had negotiated our armistice, drew our boundary lines. We had agreed on statues of limitations and defined our crimes against dignity. We were ready.
And then, when the Boy and I were visiting my Dear Colleague Friend, we could hear the gleeful shouts and cheers of the mentors as they greeted the in-coming freshmen. Every few seconds, the quiet would be suddenly interrupted with high pitched shrieks and we would dart a glance at the bashful teenager walking through a tunnel of waving hands.
It was glorious.
It was terrifying.
I suggested to the Boy that he needed to go down and join the festivities. The Dear Colleague Friend instructed him to walk through the greeting line and the Boy’s shoulders curled up like a frightened snail and his eyes glanced at me with trepidation.
I wanted to insist so I could watch him, but then I remembered my parents’ favorite “game” when I first started working: “Let’s Watch Graceless Work.”
I was sixteen and chubby and unsure of myself and a miserable wretch of a teenager working in a snack bar at a county park. And my parents would walk the mile or so through the woods so they could press their faces against the plexiglass window and watch me work. As though I were a spectator sport. And it was humiliating.
So I reassured the Boy that he didn’t have to walk through the greeting line but could quietly sneak down the stairs and emigrate into the swirling mass of over-whelmed freshmen and hyped upper classmen.
Go Boy. Have a good time.
I was fine with kindergarten transition. I didn’t see him off on the bus. I didn’t do much of anything other than go to work and pretend that it wasn’t that big of a deal. Come on. He was just beginning his years of education that may or may not set him on the road to future, glorious success.
Middle school transition was horrible for me because I hated middle school and I was projecting my memories and my fears on to the little boy who was curled up in the seat next to me as I drove us to our respective schools.
And he survived the jungles and emotional obstacle courses of middle school and came out six inches taller than me and with a much straighter, stronger back.
I have no fear for him being here. He knows at least three of his teachers. He has all the classes he could want. His teachers are awesome, and I say this with absolute honesty and sincerity.
The Boy is going to be fine and I know that he is going to be fine. And even as I write this, the anxiety tempers itself, falls away with each keystroke.
Without reason, I keep indulging in this gut-instinct-fantasy that this is going to be a great year. And I have no reason to be able to say this. I am teaching a class I’ve never really taught before because it is populated with students whom I’ve never really taught before. And both of my children are entering very newish environments.
But it’s going to be a great year. And I’m saying this with absolute confidence and sincerity because I truly believe this. I know that bad things are going to happen. I’m going to have bad days in which I will question the authentic conviction I felt (and am still feeling) when I wrote the above sentences. But, as I have written before, I will not be defeated.
And since I am the Boy’s mother, I know that he will not be defeated also.