My oldest daughter, Katherine, came bounding down the stairs yesterday, phone in hand (per usual), barely glancing up as she grabbed a soda from the fridge. Like Sara’s son, she is graduating high school this year, excited to be headed to Chapel Hill in the fall, but for one moment I saw not the eighteen-year-old beauty, but the five-year-old she was so many years ago. It was very much like the commercial where the daughter keeps trying to grab the car keys from her dad and he pictures her as a kindergartner.
How did we get here, I wondered. How is this possible? In my mind, I still see her at her preschool graduation, wearing a little red dress and walking up the aisle of the church, excited to accept her first diploma. I didn’t cry then, managed to hold it together. But later, they showed a video of the kids, different pictures taken throughout the year, set to the music of Crosby, Stills and Nash’s Teach Your Children.There was Katherine, painting at an easel. Sitting atop the jungle gym. With arms around her friends. There, in the darkened room, I let tears quietly stream down my face.
Now, as she heads into the finale of her senior year, I find myself going back and replaying the scenes of her life like a movie reel. Her boogey-boarding for the first time on our annual Outer Banks beach trip and crossing the finish line at one of her many 5K races. Baking cookies together in the kitchen or watching her head out with her best friends, girls she has known since kindergarten.
There are other scenes that don’t play out as well. Missed curfews and salty language and disagreements and full-fledged fights. Just as I get sentimental, one of her sour moods snaps me back to reality. It is not always cotton candy and rainbows-sometimes there are storms. I feel that we’ve weathered them and become stronger, but it certainly wasn’t easy.
She is enjoying this last bit of her childhood, and part of me wants her to hold on to these carefree days forever. Because I write for Sweet Relish, I’ve begun putting together a “graduation box” for her. Some are things I know she’ll need at college- a cute shower caddy, a personalized laundry bag, an eco-friendly charger. Others I hope will spark a memory or provide her some comfort- a beautiful Tiffany compass so she’ll never get lost, a customized photo vase, and her favorite childhood book, which is fittingly, Oh the Places You’ll Go.
Quoting Dr. Seuss, I know that she’s off to Great Places, and her mountain is waiting. It is what will make these last months with her all the sweeter.
Victoria is a North Carolina mother of three who is excited her oldest daughter will be a Tar Heel- even if she is a Blue Devil herself.When not driving car pool or attending sporting events, she writes for Sweet Relish, the coolest site on the web.