This is my third senior year. Fourth if I count my own, but that was eons ago, before I understood the impact senior year could have. My third child and second son experienced his last first day in September and in just a few short months (and they will be short) he will graduate from high school. (Oh, I hope so.)
It’s his senior year; a time filled with "lasts," and even though he is my third, each of his lasts still tugs at my heart as though it is a first. I suppose that’s because senior year is a time like no other. Magical for some; haunting for a few, but a period that will be etched in each student’s memory for eternity, like it is etched in mine and probably yours as well.
It can be the best — or the worst — of times and as a mom I yearn for the former. Best experiences. Best classes. Best teachers. Best friends. Best sports seasons. Best homecoming. Best decisions. Best report card. (Oh, I hope so.)
I’ve also found through experience that when you are a mom to one, you feel as though you are mom to many. I’ve watched my son and his friends grow from preschoolers to gangly teens to handsome young men. He and his buddies hang out around the kitchen table or shoot hoops in the driveway or work on homework in the dining room. Next year they will scatter across the state or the country in pursuit of education and employment. Each will experience a new and exciting adventure, but certainly not together like they have been for years. I find myself selfishly missing that already.
He and his classmates are at the pinnacle. They are the oldest in the school, with the potential to be leaders there — at the top of their own world. It is fleeting, but most good things are. I want him — I want all of them — to enjoy this time together, with a carefree abandon, as though it will never end, even though it will before even the most ready of them are ready for it.
I want them to study hard, but to play hard as well. To be kind and thoughtful to underclassmen, because it wasn’t long ago that this year’s seniors were the young guns (and next year they will be in that position again). To continue making good choices, because the bad ones somehow seem to take on more appeal during the last year of high school.
Senior year. It is a time of freedom, when prom and playoffs take precedence and tuition payments, cell phone bills and doing your own laundry are blips on the radar. It’s when your independence is more about increased privileges than increased responsibilities. When grown-ups are just that and they still take care of you, for the most part, at least.
All too soon, this year’s seniors will come to understand there is more to cooking than frozen pizza, student loans must be repaid, you can’t go through your entire life borrowing your parents’ vacuum and a car with good gas mileage is a sound investment. They will learn all these serious and important facts of life — eventually, some day, in good time.
For now, those things can wait. It is senior year. Prom is approaching and tennis season will be here before you know it. And I want each of them to enjoy every last second of all the great memories they’ve still yet to make. (Oh, I hope so.)
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.