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Friday, March 5, 2010

The Farewell Tour

Tonight we made the farewell tour at Arapahoe. This is a season filled with "lasts." The last choir concert. The last musical (Cinderella), the last basketball championship run, the last winter dance, and tonight it was the last Parent-Teacher Conferences. Mrs. Gerlich, the girls' AP US History teacher suggested we go out and drink a champagne toast. It was a lovely idea, but it doesn't mix well with the percocet. So we pretended. "Drink a toast to yourselves," she said, "you've done a great job, raising two exceptional young women." See, this is why we go to Parent-Teacher Conferences. Whenever we need a little boost, whenever our self-esteem is flagging, we talk to the girls' teachers. It gets a little bit embarrassing, but not so much that I'd turn it down. I used to joke that if I needed a hug, I'd just go find one of the teachers who would be so happy to tell me how great my kids are, and how much she appreciates having them in class, she's jump up from her desk and give me a big squeeze. I don't joke about it anymore, I just go. We are so lucky. With one or two exceptions, our girls have had terrific teachers. Many of them have been over-the-top excellent. We've seen the development of maturity in personality as well as intellectual growth. I love going over to Arapahoe and, meeting someone new, saying, "I'm Annika's mom." In a school of almost 2400 students, that's all it takes. "Annika's mom." I could not ask for a more honorable title, for a surer guarantee of respect by association. So tonight we went to make the rounds, our farewell tour of the teaching staff. And it was nice to hear one correct me and say, "no, it's a victory lap. Congratulations!" Somewhere in the mix of our encouragement and support and the girls' own maturity, talents, and commitments, the alchemy of this parent-child collaboration has created a couple of very cool kids. Together with their teachers and other mentors, we've done what we hoped to do: bring to life the best of their passions and quirks, their intelligence and good sense, their talents and openness, and their engagement with life at a level of thoughtful, careful, and joyful enthusiasm. And the girls, to their credit, have given it their best, their highest, and their mostest. And here they go. Again. There will be several more lasts this Spring, and not only for Annika here at home but also for Kaia at Macalester. The last prom, the last exams, the last research project, the last meals and times with friends. And for us, parents, who feel it all very differently, these are poignant last times. I have already cried, more than once. This is what we do. We go and go and go, and teach and teach and teach, and love and love and love, and listen and listen and listen. We comfort and harass, encourage and put on brakes, we nudge and throw up our hands. We laugh, we cry, we sing, we speak and we keep our silence. We say yes and we say no. We point things out, we keep things in. We hope, we cringe, we celebrate, we fill up with gratitude. We take a farewell tour, or maybe even a victory lap. We soak in the goodness. And then, they go. As we planned. As we prepared. They go. They go. They go.