Don’t Blink or Your Kids Will Be in High School Already

This happened to me. Again. For the fourth time. One day, they are sitting on your lap, hugging you with their chubby little arms and giving you kisses with maple-syrup stained faces, and the next, they’re asking you where their football cleats are because it’s back-to-school time.

True story, and any parent out there knows how in the blink of an eye, you’re no longer the parent of a little kid but the parent of a teenager. If you’re lucky, they’ll still hug you before bed and acknowledge you in public when you drop them off somewhere.

I’m lucky, my youngest is through his phase of “Mom, no one wants to see me talking to my mom at school” and onto “Mom, chicks dig boys that love their moms.”

Now, to be clear, when I talk to him at school, it wasn’t to call him my pudding pie; it usually consisted of something like “Dude, here’s your backpack” and “See you at 3pm at the park by the school.” That is where I started to employ texting…repeatedly. I don’t want to embarrass him intentionally in public but that doesn’t mean I won’t send him texts about how mommy loves him and will be there at the parking lot after school to take him to Target to buy underclothing and deodorant. <Smooch emoticons inserted.> “Mom, why didn’t you just tell me that when you dropped me off?” Mission. Accomplished.

If you’ve read my blog beyond this post — and I really hope you have — you know that my youngest has autism. He’s come a long way from a kid who didn’t speak, used to hurt himself and had no friends beyond adults that loved the vocabulary that went from zero to professor overnight. He’s an <almost> straight-A student in Honors classes and now he’s on the football team.

In high school.

Where did the time go?

Probably most importantly tous, he’s got friends. He’s got others his own age that can relate to the issues he faces that he can speak with. Joke with. Wrestle with. Go on bike rides with. Have sleepovers and go to the movies. These are a big deal, and that’s what life is about. Sure, we want him to continue the good grades so he can possibly go to college and of course get a career he loves, but while money and career are necessary, having someone to talk to who gets you and enjoys you is something money and career can’t buy.

Now we’re prepping for back-to-school. Orientation and photos next week. He gets his schedule so we can be sure he got the classes he was planning on. He’s got a new High Sierra backpack ready to go and I bought him a reusable lunch sack that will keep his food cold (no lockers) and rolls up to a tiny pouch when empty, since space is at a premium with all the high school books and gear. Next up is the clothes portion of back-t0-school shopping. He’s got a nice list of Air Jordan 1’s and Levis. Nike socks. He never used to be specific but the last year, he is…and that’s okay, he’s our last and if this helps give him the confidence, I’m all for it.

Meanwhile, I got his laptop souped up and made sure his technology is all updated. We’re fortunate that he goes to a very high-tech school that uses notebooks in class, which is great in saving time…but may not make for a generation of people with the best handwriting skills. It also means that sometimes parents have to up their game because the requirements at home are higher, but that just gives me an excuse to buy new electronic gadgets. (Just don’t tell him that.)

I’m also coming up with back-to-school lunch ideas that can tolerate not being refrigerated, don’t require a lot of packaging/utensils and won’t get smushed. We’ve gone though a load of eyeglass cases these last few years, so I’ve got to find some sort of titanium case this year. We’re slowly working on getting back to normal hours; right now, he stays up til 2am or 3am, but he’ll be getting up around 615am in just under two weeks. We learned that despite living almost 3 miles by road, we have no bus system in our area, so I get to fight that fun drop-off traffic each morning. He’ll be staying late most days for football, so pick-up is easier, but he’s going to have long days. Then there’s the high-school homework. He was offered all AP classes, but we decided to start with one. It’s all about making for a smooth transition that allows for him to adjust to the new demands without any anxiety.

If you have kids, enjoy them now. Sleep is nice but you’ll get a lot of that later when your kids are older. Dirty floors and messy bedrooms aren’t my favorite thing, but I know I’ll miss it later. The chaos of lists and shopping and errands and trying to fit it all in around work is a way of life and it’s going to be a huge adjustment when the time comes. Little dude (who insists that I stop calling his 5’9″ body ‘little’) still asks me to come cuddle, gives me many hugs daily, tells me everything that happened..verbatim…the entire day, and asks me to show him how to do things all the time. Cook ramen. Make soup. Start laundry. I can’t turn him down when he asks me to watch a stupid tv show or listen to his entire gaming day in a nutshell story. (And it’s a really big nutshell.)  I hesitate to blink anymore. Now it’s high school…next, what? College?

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