Menifee Mom: High School Years Have Finally Arrived

By Karen Thomas

Last week, my husband and I had the opportunity to take our daughter to high school orientation. It was the first time we had set foot in a high school since our own high school days. It was both nostalgic and terrifying at the same time!

When you have four daughters, you get comments all the time about how hard it is going to be when they are all teenagers. After previewing the world of high school, I've realized that those years are now upon us.

We met up with some of her friends and their parents as we arrived at the gym and took our places in the bleachers. The orientation basically consisted of performances by several of the clubs in the school. The marching band played a fight song while the cheerleaders led a cheer. We also were entertained by the color guard, a Polynesian dance club, another dance club, NJROTC, robotics club, and the drama club.

It was great to see the variety of activities and sports our kids can be involved in while navigating their way through high school. But at the same time, it was a wake-up call to the fact that these kids are growing up. In just four years, they will pretty much be adults and ready to live on their own at college.

As I watched the girls look on at the world that awaits them, I noticed that they were feeling a bit shocked and overwhelmed as well. There was definitely a different feeling being among high school students.

Seeing their apprehension brought me a bit of comfort. It was kind of like that day when you drop off your kindergartner at their first day of school. You don't want them to be clingy and cry, but at the same time it's nice when they feel a little unsure about taking that next step in life. It's nice to know that as much as she tries to convince you otherwise, your child really isn't in a hurry to grow up.

The girls were interested in many sports and activities and we enjoyed seeing them visit the different stations set up where they could sign an interest list. It was fun to see them get excited as they started shaping their high school years. I was pleased to see that they were looking at both things that would be fun and things that would lead them toward academic success.

As parents, we joked with our kids about how they should choose something like NJROTC, where they are fully clothed and get to throw guns around. (A good way to avoid sending the wrong messages to hormonal boys! Yes, I'm not ready to have a daughter in high school.)

As scary as it is, I know that high school will be a great experience for our daughter. Over these next four years, she will grow into the kind of person she'll be as an adult. So as much as I want her to stay my little girl, I know that she has to grow up. It's my job to encourage her to try new things and guide her as she navigates these new waters so that someday when she's the mom, she can look back at her own high school years with good memories and not regret.

Karen Thomas is a stay at home mom of four daughters, has been on the PTA board at her kids' school for four years, and is a volunteer at her church, in addition to her activities as a volunteer soccer referee, a piano teacher, and a runner. Her column will appear here every other Thursday. Comments are welcome.


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