50 Thoughts: The Kids Are All Right

Originally published September 22, 2018

Really, they’re going to be OK.

I know — pretty rich advice coming from the High Priestess of Anxiety Moms on the heels of a blog post about hypocrisy. Physician, heal thyself.

It’s Homecoming Weekend for my youngest — and it’s the last. Her senior year. As I sat in the stands at the football game last night, I told my friends I was doing research for this blog series, never knowing from one day to the next what I am going to write about. A couple things came to mind.

One — the more things change, the more they stay the same. Given the momentousness of the occasion, my daughter and I pulled out my yearbook, and she was beside herself with the similarity to her school’s celebration, mine being 32 years ago.

“Blue and Gold!”

“West Parking Lot!”

“Togas!”

Where we had a ’50s Day, they had an ’80s Day. Homecoming courts, pep rallies, the big dance, it’s all there on repeat. It’s quite possible truly original thought died generations ago. The group of guys in her group trying to one-up the other with humorous suggestions of ridiculous things to wear? In my day, the Homecoming King was declared so after successfully campaigning for the crown, complete with “Vote for Hanson” stickers. Goofy might change its colors, but it’s still there walking the halls.

The kids at the football game are the same kids I went to school with — some there just to be seen until halftime when they head to Steak & Shake. The pep club kids in their striped overalls. Everyone piling out of the stands and ignoring the hard-working marching band. The poms with their borderline scandalous but super popular dance routines.

It’s funny to think back then, maybe some of our parents were having the same conversations I was having last night with friends — about college apps and opportunities, our kids’ busy schedules and how to help them navigate it. It seems that concern for their future is a hot topic as they move into senior year. And even though I’ve been down this road twice before, each kid cuts a different path, making the process feel new all over again.

But looking at them, and remembering back … we all made it through. And we did it without the internet and the Common App. (We also wrote research papers using nothing but the library and encyclopedias as source material, watched movies on VCRs and walked three miles in knee-deep snow, uphill both ways. But I digress.) I can take a deep breath and rest assured knowing these kids will figure it all out, too.

Two —watching these kids at the game, seemingly relaxed and having a great time — was set against the threat of a school shooting. Someone had left a message in the building a day earlier about a shooting planned for next week. Upon hearing of it, my knee-jerk reaction was to lock my daughter in her closet and position our demon dog just outside her door. “Not today, motherf*cker,” was all I could think.

Then seeing a Facebook group spin themselves into a hysteria over the possibility, my second thought was “Why are we giving this energy?” I don’t pass any judgement on any parent upset by the news and demanding police dogs and locker searches and metal detectors. I get it. See above. But I also didn’t want my daughter to see me reacting with such a frenzy as to concern her even more. I don’t want her feeling like she’s a hostage before anything even smells like is it going to go wrong.

But last night, those kids — along with their friends, their siblings, the football players, the teachers, the security — carried on with their lives without at least outwardly appearing like they were giving that threat a second thought. Fearless, just like we were at that age.

Here’s to the Class of ’87 and the Class of ’19 — 32 years apart, but closer than it feels.

Today’s recommendation: Ohio by Stephen Markley. OK, so the kids are decidedly NOT all right in this book, but it’s about high school And coming home again. Or more precisely, how you really can’t come home again. Just read it already.

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