Wednesday, May 31, 2017

School's Out! ('Til college)

This is the end of an era. And it's pretty much all over until the cap and gown ceremony. And the parties that come before and after.

But suffice to say, Earbaby is more than ready to turn the page on high school. She's been at her venue for six years, starting there as a seventh grader. The school was huge then. She was coming from an almost all-white, smallish Catholic school. She stepped into so much diversity, she immediately stopped feeling like "the other." There were so many "others." There were other biracial kids, there were plenty of kids who spoke Spanish as a first language, plenty of black kids, white kids, Asian kids. Her friend circle quickly widened to a United Nations, in ethnicity, religion, and orientation. This school has served her well.

And now it's time to go. And she's ready.

EB started her countdown, probably around February, even as we were still stressing about college acceptances and where her next residence would be for the foreseeable future. But it really started in earnest around April. She only had a month and a half to go, and while we urged her not to start slacking up on her work (all college acceptances are provisional, dontcha know), there were some days of senioritis. The kid who practically had to be on her deathbed to miss school, suddenly acquired the constitution of a butterfly, and a prolonged case of the sniffles (or, I don't know, vapors?) would have her begging to stay home from school. No money on Netflix was ever so well spent.

Once we were all set with preparing for the prom (her date was a really nice and good friend, and they all had the time of their lives), she started getting ready to say goodbye. There were plenty of days she would come home and say, I am so ready to get away from these people, and many other words to that effect. Yes, she would surely miss her friends, but after so many of them flaked on her when she would try to make plans this entire school year (!), she was sarcastic when they begged her not to go so far away to school.

Oh, now you're going to miss me? she told me she would say. Yes, we both remembered the weekends she would make plans, and one by one, her friends would bail on her. One time, after she had gotten all dressed to go out, and everyone stood her up, she cried in frustration. Yes, she's ready to leave the high school drama behind, even the drama of her own making.

And she will leave with some good memories.

She's gotten closer to some acquaintances, who have now become good friends. She's regained a stronger sense of herself, something woefully missing during the lost junior year of heartache, headache, and out and out betrayal. Hard lessons learned need to remembered as she gets ready to strike out far away from parental involvement. Actions have consequences, snakes show themselves early (and often), and manipulators and controllers shouldn't ever be given the time of day.

But Earbaby is worried too. She knows she's in for a culture shock. But no matter which school she had chosen, it would have been a culture shock, whether HBCU, Midwestern or Southern. It was not going to be anything like home. While she's excited for the change, some of her teachers, well-meaning maybe, but short-sighted definitely, have warned her about going to a red state.

When I pointed out that none of these naysayers had ever been at the campus she chose, she accused me of sugar-coating my alma mater. I wish I could tell these teachers to skate in their own lane. They are contributing to the general anxiety she is starting to feel about moving away, but can't recognize it if her teachers are warning her about white supremacists, which (1) exist every where, even in the bluest of blue states, and (2) are less likely to be tolerated in a college town and on a college campus.

Incidents have been swiftly rooted out and shut down. Stupidity is embarrassing for college campuses and schools who rely on good press and alumni dollars. Racism is everywhere teachers. Stop telling my kid to be afraid. You're actually hurting her growth. You're not more concerned about her welfare than her parents. We would never send her anywhere we didn't think was safe, and you feeding her anxiety about leaving us, makes her think otherwise.

So yes, I'm ready for her to be done too. She's got a couple of weeks of inactivity, before the whirlwind of graduation, orientation, dance workshop for a full week and then a full summer of a job. She will end the roller coaster ride with her first semester in a state far, far away.

She vacillates between poisoning the nest with snarky comments and attitude, and being clingy and needy. This is her final stretch run, and I can tell she's not sure she's ready for it. It's going to be a long, complicated summer.


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