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Mother of Eighth Grader Wonders What High School Will Be Like ... for Her

Bigger kid, bigger problems and brand new worries.

On one end of Westville Avenue in West Caldwell is the preschool my son attended, at the other end is the high school he will enter this fall.

Yet the distance between feels more like a lifetime than a couple of miles.

It seems like yesterday my son was wearing his Pokemon backpack and learning how to use scissors. Now, he’s taller than me and wears size 10 shoes.

That should have been a clue that he was growing up, yet I was still caught off-guard when I was invited recently to parent’s night for incoming high school freshmen.

All of the parents looked like deer caught in headlights. We didn’t know which electives to suggest, we worried they’d get put in the wrong level of math and were convinced none of our kids would get into college and would live at home into their 30s.

It occurred to me pretty quickly, our kids are definitely ready for high school – it’s their parents who aren’t.

Though we’ve passed the stages of fretting over their immunizations, multiplication tables and teaching them to ride bikes, we’ve entered a whole new stage of worries. We stress about who they’ll date and if there is drinking at parties and whether they’ll drive safely when they get their licenses. 

All the ghosts from our own high school years start creeping back into the picture. Will our kids get prom dates? Will mean girls or arrogant jocks torture them? Will their teachers be burn outs? Will they bomb the SAT? 

Just when it seemed like parenting would get easier – after all, naptime and tying shoelaces is behind us – having teenage kids is throwing a monkey wrench into the whole thing.

I have found comfort talking to parents of other high-schoolers. They assure me that somehow the kids find their lockers, enroll in the right classes, and even make friends.

I guess the next few years will be a growing experience for both my son and me.

Though fall classes haven’t started yet, I am looking forward to the next bittersweet experience – when we both graduate – him from high school and me to a more mature, confident mom.

A mom who can hopefully comfort the mother of another 8th grader and say, “I know just how you feel.”

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