Today was S’s first day of high school. It’s her fourth first day of high school this year and the poor girl was shaking like a leaf all morning. Her previous high school had a graduating class of 13 students, the school in our area has a graduating class of over 300 students. I can’t even imagine how terrified she was for this new beginning. “It smells like high school” she said as we were walking up the stairs into the building and I could tell that making jokes was going to be our coping mechanism for this experience. When the girls are going through something big in their lives I try my best to understand how they are feeling, I put myself in their place despite how many times they tell me that I don’t understand.
A coworker recently laughed at me when I called S my foster daughter and I would have loved to see the look I gave her from her perspective. She told me it was funny because I’m only eight years older than her. As I have said previously, the dynamic is complicated in our family but in a lot of ways having a smaller age gap between us helps me to relate better…sometimes. Growing up I always said that I wanted to have my children at a younger age, I wanted to be finished having them by the time I was 30 to be exact. I believe part of this is due to the fact that I was raised by my Grandparents and part of it is because I wanted to be able to relate to my children better. Being raised by my Grandparents was a blessing in every way, don’t get me wrong, but in a lot of situations they were not as modern as I would have preferred growing up. They couldn’t always keep up, they weren’t always “hip” with what was going on in the world, the music etc. but they did their best. I think I learned a lot from our differences, which led me to be the person I am. I’m also seeing now that S and I have our fair share of differences. Eight years may not seem like a big age gap, but it’s enough to make her roll her eyes and laugh at my reactions to her “trap” music blasting throughout our house.
As I was walking back into the high school this morning I did my best to remember what it was like to be a freshman. I told her all the tips and tricks I could think of, toured the school with her guidance counselor and eventually sent her on her way. Coming back as the “Mom” of a student five years after graduating was a hilarious experience and I’m hoping it lightened the mood for S. We were often asked “who the student was”, we met some of my old teachers and I shook the hand of one that I had previously who introduced himself as if meeting me for the first time. I guess I wasn’t that memorable to everyone!
At the end of the day, S decided along with us and her guidance counselor that she wanted to try the new alternative school in the area. It’s a smaller setting, with only 56 students in the entire building and different than tradition schooling in that it’s a lot of hands on learning, less sitting in a classroom being lectured. She is so excited about it! So, her fifth school, fifth first day of school will be Monday and I think we are all hoping that it will end up being the place she graduates from.