Soap opera fans will be familiar with this plot device:
Parents send Johnny off to summer camp at age 6. Six weeks later, Johnny returns with facial hair, a deep voice, and a boatload of grown-up problems. Meanwhile, the soap opera parents, even the ones who have spent the summer being cloned, kidnapped, and stranded on a desert island, haven’t aged at all.
As unrealistic as this sounds, that’s exactly where I find myself today, as my baby boy, the one that I swear I just put on the Kindergarten bus this morning, returns home from school on the last day of his junior year.
The reality that my child is now officially a high school senior has hit me a bit harder than I expected. Probably because I’ve been here before with my older son and I know what’s in store: the year of “lasts.”
This will be his last summer as a high school student. When he returns to school in August, it will be his last first day of school. And then the “lasts” will come in rapid succession: Last golf season. Last sports banquet. Last Homecoming. Last school picture day. Last snow day. Last FBLA competition. Last standardized test. And so on and so forth, right up until his very last walk through the hallways on his last last day of school.
As the saying goes: “The days are long, but the years are short.” And in my experience, no year is shorter than senior year. It’s a crazy, hectic year filled with college applications, acceptances & rejections, senior portraits, yearbook submissions, Prom prep, awards nights, cap & gown ordering, etc. Amidst all of the hubbub, it’s hard to get too sentimental — it’s just too dang busy.
But eventually, as you’re putting together the collage for his graduation party or ordering his graduation announcements, it will hit you. Even though you may feel exactly like the same person who sent that kiddo off to Kindergarten 13 years ago, he has somehow managed to transform into a new person— one with facial hair, a deep voice, and perhaps a boatload of grown-up problems. And despite all of the soap opera-level drama you’ve undoubtedly endured over those 13 years, you will wish with all you have for a time travel plot twist to allow you the chance to go back and do it all over again.