Have you ever found yourself watching the sequel to a movie that didn’t interest you that much in the first place?
That’s sort of how I’m feeling about “Eighth Grade: One More Time!”
I’ll admit a few things before I get too far. First, it’s our own fault that the sequel came out so quickly. We had an eighth-grader last year, and we have another one this year. I know how that happened, and in hindsight perhaps our “Irish twins” are a bit too close together in age.
Second, I’m not tired of the people themselves. Our eighth-grade daughter is a totally different person from her older sister. Their personalities couldn’t be more divergent, yet they’re complementary. They’re fun to have around the house. Their friends are also varied.
Third, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of these coming-of-age rituals. The fault lies entirely within myself, as I suffer from a natural boredom with things I’ve seen before.
OK, now that we’ve got those out of the way, I’m finding it really difficult to get excited for some of these rituals my 13-year-old is participating in 12 months after her sibling did.
Last week, her Catholic school had its annual May crowning for Mary. It was cool that it lined up with the feast day for the miracle of Fatima, but if you’ve seen eighth-graders get all dressed up, walk up front in church and put flowers in a vase once, well, you’ve seen that.
This week, she’s heading off to Washington, D.C., on our school district’s annual pilgrimage to the seat of the federal government. Originally I was going to attend with her, but it got rescheduled to a week where other duties at home keep me from leaving town for a few days. I remember her older sister’s anxiety about going on the bus trip with so many kids from her class. Now she’s going through similar emotions.
Next on the voyage of traditions will be eighth-grade graduation. I’ve never particularly understood preschool, kindergarten or eighth-grade graduations, since everyone continues on the same path afterward. I understand the emotional drain of a high school graduation, as things literally are never the same again. I haven’t seen some of those classmates since we wore our cap and gown all those years ago. Her eighth-grade class, though? They’ll mostly see each other in the halls of their high school, just with more kids pouring in from the other middle schools that feed into their high school.
In the not too distant future, she’ll also have her confirmation, again about a year since we went through the same thing on her older sister.
So what’s a dad to do when everything feels like a carbon copy of 365 days ago?
I’ll keep my mouth shut and try to turn it into a smile. I’ll try to act like it’s all new and exciting to me. I’ll give the biggest hugs and be as into it as I can feign.
I’ll do all that because I love my daughter. While it’s all old news to me, it’s brand new to her. She’s experiencing it for the first time, processing everything and enjoying it on her own terms.
Really, that’s the best part of being a father. It’s not about the experiences I have. It’s about the experiences my children have and savoring every moment of watching my children enjoy them.