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Dear College Senior: You Don't Have to Have Everything Figured OutElizabeth Spencer
My youngest son is a “second semester high school senior.” Five words which, as any of you who have been there know, comes with its own set of rules.
Many seniors already know which college they'll be attending or have a few acceptances from which to choose, but even those who are still waiting to hear are experiencing senioritis. Last week, my son had a three-hour delay due to bad weather and another day off for parent-teacher conferences (not for the 12th graders, mind you). The three and a half days he actually had to go to school were still too much for him.
Even though there’s still snow on the ground, he only has about a month left. ONE MONTH. Why? Because his high school, in a brilliant stroke of genius, has the seniors do a “senior internship,” a work program which gets them out of the building for the last marking period. They do it because the kids are DONE. Their teachers are DONE. I am DONE. We are all DONE.
This being done thing has nothing to do with missing my child. I’ve written a gazillion words about how sad I will be to see that boy of mine leave. But this school thing? I. Just. Can’t.
I’m not a football fan, but I’ve seen have seen enough of the sport to know when a game is over even if there is still some time left on the clock. The players have to remain on the field and go through the motions but everyone knows it’s finished. That’s how it is for both me and my youngest son.
My son recently got a meh grade on an AP physics exam. I was like “whatever.” And although it pains my English major soul that he hasn’t read a book in months, when my husband remarked on this, I said to him, “whatever.” This past weekend he went to see the new Marvel movie Friday night and on Saturday had dinner with camp friends before going to one of their houses to play video games. Sunday, he watched a soccer game prior to attending the school musical and then went out to another dinner with camp friends. Needless to say (but I will say it anyway), he did little schoolwork. But this new chill version of me said — (you guessed it) —“whatever.”
My husband wondered aloud, “Is that all you can say these days?” and the answer is “Yes.” For decades (and I do mean, literally, decades), I was like white on rice with my three boys. I was the mom who checked the homework folder every day in elementary school. Made sure they were studying, limited their video game playing, knew their test schedules. Was it getting down to the wire on a project? I was happy to dash to Michaels for last minute art supplies and snip pictures out of magazines. Over the years I quizzed them on thousands of vocabulary words (okay, I actually liked that chore but still).
But just as my son is a second semester senior, I am a second semester senior mom. For the third and last time. I finally get to be the mom I longed to be but couldn’t because I felt it was my duty to police them. I envied the parents who left it to their kids to figure things out for themselves, but it just wasn’t in me to be that parent. Until now.
I was recently in the city having brunch with my two older sons and when it was time to leave my oldest said something to the effect of “You have no reason to go home. Your work is done.” And I thought, “He has a point.” Although I know full well that my job as a parent will never actually be done, this chapter of the book is coming to a close.
I’m not a football fan, but I’ve seen enough of the sport to know when a game is over even if there is still some time left on the clock. The players have to remain on the field and go through the motions but everyone knows it’s finished. So after the disappointing AP physics grade, I gave him the speech about how he still needs to finish strong, he doesn’t want the college to revoke his acceptance because that really did happen to someone two towns away five years ago, blah blah blah. It was half-hearted but the best I could do.
Soon enough I’ll be asking him how college is going, and if he’s gotten any papers or quizzes back yet. But for now? Whatever.
I’m going to just enjoy being a second semester senior mom.
It’s time to celebrate with the perfect gift for your new grad!