As classes begin for this school year, we’re in a unique position at our home.
Our oldest daughter enters her senior year. She’s been through 12 years of learning, and now it’s her turn to be atop the high school social ladder. She’s already prepping for a whole life after school.
That’s enough for a parent to have a mid-life crisis, realizing you’re old enough to have a child who is legally an adult.
We’re also on the other end of the spectrum. Our foster daughter, who very likely will become a Trinko in the coming months thanks to a recent court ruling, enters kindergarten at the same school where our 10-year-old and 12-year-old daughters attend.
That’s enough for a parent to think about all the gray in your hair and wonder if you really have the energy it takes to help a child through 13 years of education.
In this school year, we have one child finishing school as we have one starting it. When it’s all said and done in spring 2032, we’ll be responsible for a child in elementary, middle or high school for 25 years.
We often laugh when we think about how we feel among the parent groups in different kids’ classes. With our oldest daughter, we were generally younger than most of the parents, as the kids in that class tended to be younger children of older couples. That flipped with our 10-year-old, who has a lot of oldest children in her class. My wife and I will be in our late 50s when our 5-year-old graduates high school, which I suspect will be unique to us.
It’s not quite as severe as my parents, who had a senior in high school when my youngest sister was born. They had at least one child going through school for 31 consecutive years. My dad used to joke he couldn’t think about retiring too early because he needed insurance for my youngest sister at least until she graduated high school.
It’s not all bad, of course. There are so many firsts we had with our oldest that are old hat now. We have so much better of an understanding about which field trips are cool and which ones are duds. We learned by trial and error what particular teachers wanted or didn’t want as our daughters grew up in many of the same classrooms.
We know better which projects can be done at the last minute and which ones need started immediately. We know which teachers will cut you some slack and which ones demand the most of you. We can guide our kids better because of it.
As we look forward to another school year and sign up for another baker’s dozen of them, we’re trying really hard not to feel old. We’re just experienced and educated. Isn’t that what school’s all about anyway?