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The First Day of High School Is Nothing Short of Magical

Photograph by Getty Images

My oldest son started high school. I can’t believe it. I’m still sitting here in amazement. My sugar plum is going to school with people who have mustaches and drive cars. How did this happen? And why is my baby taller than I am?

I can’t take it. No. I must take it. This is life. Nothing ever stays the same.

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I restrained myself from stalking him on his first day of school. I managed to wait until he called me to tell me about it versus texting him throughout the day for updates. He settled into his chair and I made him a bowl of fruit as he shared his first day of high school story with me.

Apparently, the school is huge, bigger than any school he’s ever been to. And he got lost going to each and every class he had, so by the time he arrived there were only seats in the back of the classrooms left. He didn’t have anyone to eat lunch with so he walked around by himself. He had a good day overall, but nothing spectacular.

That’s it? I shook my head. Boys certainly don’t know how to tell a story.

After we hung up I sat back clutching my heart as I sweetly drifted off into memories of my own. After all, watching our children grow is like déjà vu.

Just like my son, I went off to a high school with none of my close friends from middle school. But unlike him I planned it that way. I wanted a challenge of starting over socially since I had always been pretty well-liked in both elementary and middle school and I wanted to see if I would be treated the same way if people didn’t know who I was. So off I went to a high school outside of my neighborhood. I chose this high school, not because of the magnet program (the excuse I gave my mom who signed the enrollment papers), but because when I went to the open house I saw so many brown-skinned Spanish speaking boys and I thought they were so cute!

I decided my future for myself and it all began on that fateful day: the first day of high school.

But I never told anyone that as I stepped off the metro bus, waved goodbye to my mom, who actually rode the bus with me just to make sure I made it there safely (how embarrassing) and sauntered up the front walk way like I knew where I was going. I didn’t. It took me 10 minutes to realize that I was lost. As I walked up to a group of older looking kids, I took a deep breath and asked for directions. My eyes grew wide as four different arms extended out pointing in four different directions. They laughed at me as my shoulders sank and I walked away, ending up in the cafeteria.

I made it through the day, attending the welcome assembly for freshman, and watching this group of really loud, obnoxious girls cheer and scream throughout the assembly. I made a mental note to never go near them. It turns out that those same loud girls were in all of my classes and they would smile at me and invite me to sit with them. I refused.

Now that I think about it, the first day of high school was kind of boring, just like my son’s first day. But the rest of the four years growing up at Miami Jackson High weren’t boring, not by a long shot. By the time I graduated I was a completely different person, even more confident, even more popular, even more sure that I would become a journalist one day. I became daring and skipped school with my friends and headed to the beach, grabbing a bucket of crab legs along the way, feeling young, powerful and free. And who would have thought that those rowdy, obnoxious girls I saw on the first day of school at the freshman assembly would become the young ladies who witnessed all of my hijinks and transformations?

I tried marijuana for the first time. I even fell in love for the first time too. I had my first heartbreak, my most amazing triumph over an arch enemy who swore he would be newspaper editor and senior class president (NO, YOU WON’T), and when I turned 16 during the summer and came back to school in the fall, most of the boys thought I was a new girl. I applied for college and was accepted with no help from any adults. I decided my future for myself and it all began on that fateful day: the first day of high school.

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My son has a lot to look forward to, even though his first day of high school wasn’t eventful. He’ll grow. He’ll be challenged. He’ll wake up to what it means to be himself. I’m so excited to watch and see how he develops. I wonder what he’ll become. Who will be his friends? What will he excel in?

Just like how I wondered what I would become. Funny how I became everything I imagined that I would. I’m sure he will too.

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