Shopping for school supplies for the DemiGoddesses has evolved beyond markers and crayons, school glue, tape, and safety scissors. The scientific calculators I bought them for school last year still work fine, so during our shopping trip to Target last night, all we put into our cart was a pile of composition books, some loose leaf paper, a supply of pens and binders.
DemiGoddess the Younger’s binder is one of those elaborate canvas-covered, multi-zippered and pocketed organizer systems, complete with accordion-style colored plastic dividers and a clip-on shoulder strap for portability. (Yeah. It’s THAT big). DemiGoddess the Elder, on the other hand, opted for your standard 2-inch, heavy-duty, vinyl three-ring binder. It opens. It closes. It's white. Her binder is utilitarian and, most imporantly, customizable. She'll embellish it herself later with Sharpie markers.
I’ve been surprised to find myself far more daunted by the idea of Demi the Elder entering high school than I ever was by kindergarten or even junior high. And my worries go far beyond the obvious perils of her upcoming entry into driver's ed class. High school is when life starts to get real. Her high school experience, for better or worse, can have major fallout well into her future. For the next four years, doing or not doing her homework will directly impact her grades, which will impact her eligibility for scholarship money and her college options, which will, in turn, impact the career path she’ll be on for the REST OF HER LIFE. We're about to enter the parenting home stretch, the time for making any last-minute corrections is running out, and the overwhelming prospect of doing it wrong—of ME allowing HER to do it wrong—has me practically paralyzed with anxiety.
And, obviously, I would very much like the social aspects of her high school experience to be an improvement over my own (not that that would be difficult). Like any parent, I'm trying to learn how to walk that precarious line between allowing her live her own life, and doing everything in my power to prevent her from making mistakes that she might look back on, twenty years from now, and regret.
I do realize that all of these issues are more about me than they are about her. And I’ve tried to keep them mostly to myself. So far, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping a lid on my insanity. But last night at Target, the lunch box aisle completely blew my cover.
DemiGoddess the Younger had already selected a sassy pink two-handled tote style insulated lunch bag, complete with it's own mini freezer pack. But when it came to Demi the Elder, I wondered out loud, “What do high school kids carry their lunches in? One of these insulated things? Brown bags? Do the cool kids just take hot lunch?”
Demi the Younger looked at me skeptically. “The ‘cool’ kids?”
“I don’t want hot lunch,” Demi the Elder said. “The cafeteria food is gross.” Then she took a colorful rocket ship-shaped lunch box off the shelf. “This one is cool,” she laughed. And it was. But the ninth-grader that I apparently still am, somewhere, deep down, was having none of it.
“You’d bring your lunch to high school in a rocket ship lunch box? Won't the older kids make fun of you?"
"They do that at the high school?" asked Demi the Younger.
"Sure they do," I said. "'Hey there little freshman, what did your mom pack in your rocket ship lunch box for you, little freshman?'”
Demi the Younger’s look changed from skepticism to sympathy. “You were really traumatized in high school, weren’t you?”
It’s going to be a long four years.