Grade 8….done! Here comes high school!!

We recently attended our 13 year old’s graduation ceremony as she finishes off her grade 8 year and heads to the hallowed halls of high school (sorry for the alliteration!!).

When Molly first started middle school, she thought it would feel like she was just “stopping by” – after all, it was only going to be for two years. However, her tears and overall sad mood today indicates that it was much deeper and meaningful an experience and that she is really going to miss these two years and some of the friends she met along the way.

It was an evening that has been talked about by my daughter since the start of grade 7; not so much because of what it symbolized but more so because of what she would have to wear to celebrate the event. She looked absolutely breathtaking. My daughter, who has an amazing head of long curly hair (I should be so lucky), convinced her very patient mother to flat-iron it in the hours leading up to the event…making her look even more mature than her 13 years. The killer blue dress was actually her second dress. The first dress was bought while vacationing in Florida. Molly’s logic was that if she bought a dress from a store not found in Toronto that she would be an original…no one would have the same dress as her (she hasn’t figured out yet that she is an original regardless of the dress!). Turns out, about two months ago, a grade 7 girl was wearing the exact same dress to school. Molly was devastated….so off we went to a store in Toronto running the risk of duplication (by the way, she was the only girl wearing the locally bought dress). Coupled with her black heels and killer smile (actually, killer smirk, since she is more prone to grinning than smiling), she was, by far, the most attractive and appropriately put-together young woman in her graduating class. Believe me, there were some 13 year olds who looked well beyond there years, dressed way too provocatively for a graduation ceremony, let alone for a 13 year old…but hey, I am biased.

While she made Honor Roll and we are thrilled for her, math continues to be the monkey on her back. Clearly, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…both her mom and I always struggled with math during our school age years.

She was on various sports teams this year including basketball and frisbee football and despite some not-so-nice encounters with some “friends” whom she will be happy to not hang out with any more, I can comfortably say that the two years spent at middle school were completely enjoyable and highly memorable.

Now, as she coasts to the finish line and the there is nothing left to learn in grade 8, the reality of parting ways with new-found friends and the daunting 4 years of high school are now staring her squarely in the face.

I think she is sad and scared as hell. The truth be told…so are we.

Middle school is a walk in the park compared to what we know is coming. The next four years will be defining years for our daughter, Molly.

If she hasn’t already, she will be exposed to new kinds of peer pressures around such items as drinking and drugs. Sex and relationships will become an even bigger subject and issue in her world then ever before. She will maybe even have a boyfriend or two (or three), who will probably say and do things to upset her. She will break up with these boys and they invariably will break up with her too.

She will develop friendships with new girls…some of whom will be genuine and true-blue and will endure for a life time..while others will be fleeting and might end in a not so nice way.

Molly will be required to take on the responsibilities of a heightened academic schedule with expectations far greater than what she has grown accustomed to. We have reminded her repeatedly that once she hits grade 9, things really do count. While she has performed extremely well up to this point, the pressure to excel will be increased as she will be working towards her post-secondary journey that will position her for the future as a viable member of the labour force. Facebook-time will be radically reduced!!

Molly will also have to spend a certain number of required hours volunteering that will earn her credits towards her high school diploma. While right now she looks at volunteering as a necessary evil, we are hopeful that the experiences that she involves herself in will not only humble her and make her appreciate all that she has in her life, but that it will open her up to the possibility of including volunteerism as integral part of her life in the future.

Beyond academics, the world is her oyster, if she so chooses. As one member of the School Board said in her address to the graduating class, students should jump feet first into the ocean of possibility. There are so many programs and activities which will enrich her high school years and will provide her with memories to last a life time.

These are exciting times for Molly. There will be bumps and hiccups and tears and laughter along the way. I wish that she is able to live in the moment, embrace each event as it unfolds..savour its sweetness and do so with all of her senses fully alive and aware.

Bring it on!!

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About I'm Just A Dad

Stephen Gosewich is just a Dad (he is a former Enlightened Male but decided to change the name because when you search Enlightened Male, "other...wink, wink" are displayed. He spends his days during the week as a working stiff. At all other times, he just enjoys hanging out with his best friend and wife and their two very active and inspiring daughters.
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