My last child is off to high school…

By Renee Williams


Back to school season is upon us and I’m bracing for impact. Our home is filled with excitement, anticipation and a wee bit of nervousness.

This year is bittersweet for me as my youngest son Dylan will begin his freshman year of high school. Wow! My last child is off to high school and I’m not really sure how that happened.

Today, as I look at his 5’10” frame, I recall his first day of school and how I watched him walk off and wondered if he would go willingly into his class or glance back to see if I was still standing there. Although I stood close by waiting to rescue him, he went very willingly into his classroom that day and he never even glanced back. That moment pulled at my heartstrings and although I had an overwhelming sense of pride in my son’s accomplishment and maturity, I also felt a sense of loss as I realized I had to let go.  Like the first time he ever put on roller skates: he stood up, lost his balance, fell down extremely hard yet looked to me and said, “Where do I sign up for the races?” As I held back my nervous laughter and refrained from letting the words, “Absolutely not,” slip off my tongue, he skated off. He participated in the race (without injury, I must add) and he never even glanced back.

Then came adolescence, that awkward time for growth spurts and puberty changes. The downy blond hair that once dusted his arms and legs became darker and his voice and body seem to change overnight. I blinked and he morphed into a teenager right in front of my eyes. During this time, on one unsuspecting afternoon, he gave off a distress call and as I raced down the hall to see what was going on, I found him staring into the bathroom mirror. I looked at him utterly confused and then he yelled out, “Mom, I think I’m turning into a ginger.” After we roared with laughter (no offense gingers), I reassured him he wasn’t “turning into a ginger” and that his hair was only getting darker. But before I could get too esoteric on him, he left the room and he never even glanced back.

But I wanted to pull him tight and tell him other things too. I wanted to tell him the cool kids really aren’t that cool, mean girls suck and lots of high schoolers pretend to be someone they’re not just to fit in. I wanted to tell him the popular kids were usually superficial and encourage him to befriend a nerd because they are Ivy Leaque smart and always great for helping out with science homework. I wanted to tell him to be a floater, to be adaptable like a chameleon and hang with the band geeks one day and the jocks and cheerleaders the next, but I know I’ll drop him off and he will go very willingly and never even glance back.

Letting go is tough but parenting is a balance of letting go and hanging on, one step at a time. Feel free to leave your favorite back to school comments and memories on Happy back to school season!

Until September,

Renee Williams

This article appears in the August 2017 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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