The Almost Empty Nester: The High School Experience

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The High School Experience

I know I sound 100 years old every time I say to my kids, "When I was in high school..." I get the eye roll and then their eyes gloss over and I've lost them. But it's hard not to think about my experience and compare it to theirs.

I've been pondering this a lot lately. My kids' high school experience isn't like mine. I try to not have too many expectations but it's hard. And it's also tough not to compare what their world is like to what mine was in high school. (25 years ago to be precise. I'm not 100, but it feels that way sometimes.)

I find that when I expect their experiences to be just like mine, I end up frustrated. I think things like, "It shouldn't be this way, it should be this way." I'm a slow learner, but I'm realizing that this doesn't do me or my kids any good. I was an athlete. I played volleyball and basketball. I went to practice, played in games on Friday nights and hung out with friends on the weekend. My kids do somewhat of the same thing, but not really. Girly chose a more traditional route with volleyball, but also does Student Council and wants to be in the school play. The boys played football when they were little, but their interests are changing and aren't into organized sports like I was. They mountain bike and weight lift and do things outside of school. And I'm happy they are finding what they love. But the vision in my head doesn't match my reality. And I'm learning that can be dangerous.

Dangerous because as I said above, it makes me live in a constant state of frustration trying to jam their world into the world I've imagined for them in my head. It won't fit. And you know why? Because it's their world, not mine. And I'm not just talking about social media and how their generation has different things at their fingertips than I did. I mean that my kids are choosing other interests than I did. Because - hello - they aren't me. They are their own individual selves and I love them for it.

The Hubby was a left-handed baseball pitcher due to play Major League Baseball when an injury sidelined him. It was awful. We still mourn it on some levels. Neither of our boys play baseball. Many people find this fascinating. But Hubby and I decided from the beginning to be intentional about letting our kids figure out who they are and what they like without influencing them to choose what we love or loved. And I'll be honest, that hasn't always been easy. But we've never regretted that decision.

Part of what I think is difficult is, if they did the same things I did, I would know better how to help them through the ups and downs of teenage years. But I feel like I'm experiencing all new stuff right along with them. And there it is...that thing called faith that keeps creeping in and reminding me I don't control this stuff. I never have and never will. The planner in me, the me that hates unknowns, has a major bone to pick with this.

But it's in those times when I'm at a loss on how to guide them that I pray with them and over them, putting my faith in God who holds us and understands the journey - mine and theirs.

So, I drive to volleyball games and I get mud out of mountain biking clothes and I practice Olympic Weightlifting with my son (I do it too and I love it :). And when my mind wanders to what I experienced, I remember things for a moment and then I move on. I did High School. That box is checked. Now it's their turn. Their way.

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