"We've got our deepest hopes tattooed on our
eyelids, so when we sleep we speak fireworks."
Today, my beloved daughter graduates from high school.
Here are some of the posts I wrote about her this year:
Day of Your Birth
Music With the Girl
Dining in California With the Girl
I also wrote about our trip to Chicago:
Chicago - Day 1
Chicago - Day 2
Chicago - Day 3
Chicago - Day 4
Chicago - Day 5
She did turn eighteen, recently, but still I feel weird posting a picture of her on my blog, so I won't. Suffice it to say, she's tall, slender as a birch, and caramel colored all over. I've been reading about the human shadow, and so I see my shadow in her. She is passionate, and she will have to accept her own nature and moderate that part of her that has learned to be critical, that has learned how to assassinate in order to protect her tender center. I was congratulated this morning for "getting her through high school," and although, yes, I was there, and kept her clothed, and fed, and reasonably safe, I maintain that she got herself through high school. Part of the consequences of my critical nature is that she didn't want a lot of my help over the years. My help was too intrusive, and so she got through high school mostly without it. She made her own choices most of the time. I stepped in rarely, when I thought she was endangering her health. Then, there was a boundary. Stay home until you recover from the terrifying opthalmic migraine that struck you temporarily blind in Chemistry class. Consider dropping swim team.
I watched her in agony, in middle school. Oh, middle school sucked. Middle school is full of mean kids, grappling with parental shadows and hormones. Full of killers and pit traps. She got through it, probably, by loving music and theater, the good teachers who nurtured her and challenged her. Bless the teachers. Bless them, for what they often do for our kids. Not all teachers are good, but some are incredible, giving, inspiring, dedicated, self-sacrificing people. My daughter is incredibly lucky to have had them, even the ones she complained about, because they were "crazy" and needed to "get a life." No doubt some of those teachers could benefit from more self-care, more self-love and tenderness. But you can still be an amazing teacher if you take home the problems of your students, and eat the bitterness of the parental neglect you see every day. Once again, please bless and thank the teachers.
My child has has an incredible life, so far, and she's only eighteen. She has adventured across the country, exposed herself broadly to cultural events, played the violin and clarinet and the marimba in several musical groups throughout her school career. She has been the stage manager for at least a dozen productions, some for school, some out in the community, including experimental theater in Cambridge, and operas in Boston (one of which featured a cast that was naked for 95% of the show). She has stood as concert master for her band at Carnegie Hall. She has been a drum major. She has been a varsity swimmer. She has built sets (and lost 60% of my power tools) and managed all of the original Broadway props for a school play, including a car with a hydraulic platform atop which the leading man performed a tap dance. She has climbed Mt. Monadnock, gone kayaking in the Ipswitch River, gone whale watching and sailing. The girl has seen the world, and loves it through art and music. She has been to MoMA, the Met, the MFA in Boston, the Guggenheim. I did not drag her to these places. She went under her own steam.
In the fall, she'll be off to university. She's splitting the difference between staying home and going far away. The school is less than 45 minutes away, far enough away for her to have her own life, to create her own reality. Close enough to come back for a home-cooked meal, and to use the washer/dryer. Close enough to come home and tell her stories to people who really care, who will listen to all of the details and ask curious, but not intrusive or demanding questions. Hopefully, she will bring new music home, invite us to concerts and plays, show us her projects, and tell me about her friends. Perhaps she'll bring some friends back with her sometimes. That would be great, to see her new reality, her evolving self.
My life has changed through her school career, and it will change again now. I will no longer be a day-to-day, "are you going to school today?", here's a Tylenol, kind of mom. I will be the mom on the other end of the texts. Maybe she'll friend me on Facebook, if I'm fortunate, so I can see the pictures of her on zombie walks through Boston, and pants-less flash mobs on the Boston subway system. We're going to London and Leeds in August, to the Leeds Music Festival. Next week, she takes a car trip to Tennessee, to the Bonnaroo Music Festival, with a car load of friends. She's growing up, folks, branching out, living out loud, taking the world by storm. With a camera, a microphone, dance mix software, a journal, and passion.
I know she will fight and fly and find her way.
Bon chance, my love, my child.