Do you remember your first day of high school? For me it involved a lot of lip smackers, impulse and contacting my books with pictures I cut out of Smash Hits of Kevin Arnold from the Wonder Years.
I had cut my hair short before the term started, thinking that my groovy do would definitely make me popular. I realised the fatal error I had made when I walked into home room and saw the luscious manes on all the other girls. On more than one occasion my geriatric French teacher called me “young man”. Oh the horror.
I remember feeling small and a bit frightened on my first day when I saw a group of year 12 boys and their sweaty, testosterone-y bodies loping around the yard, leaving wafts of Davedoff Cool Water in their wake.
I vividly recall looking at the other girls’ boobs in the change room and fearing mine were actually growing inwards, so lacking were they. I was also shocked at the muff on display and wondered when my crop would appear and secretly hoped it never would. Sadly, I ended up with a fine set of koala ears that poked out either side of my standard issue green Speedos.
My first real crush was in year 7. In hindsight, I think the boy was actually secondary to the passion I felt! An accessory to my boundless capacity for love and writing out of complicated love percentage equations.
The freedom of the cafeteria! Oh the joy of being able to pick my own food, some days I would just have 3 giant Freddos for lunch. What glorious, heady anxiety ridden days they were.
Friends, my eldest daughter is about to embark on this same journey – my first born starts high school next year. My high school actually…
MUSICAL INTERLUDE – Picture the opening scene of the Lion King, I walk to the edge of the cliff in a sexy loin cloth and vine nipple tassels. I am holding my daughter who is 12 but surprisingly light. I thrust her up towards the heavens and sing:
“Nants ingonyama bagithi baba Sithi uhhmm ingonyama. Nants ingonyama bagithi baba Sithi uhhmm ingonyama. Ingonyama Siyo Nqoba Ingonyama
Ingonyama nengw’ enamabala.. It’s the Circle of life and it moves us all.”
Are you with me?!
My eldest had her high school orientation day last week and I am torn between excitement and grief. This is it. This is what her father and I have been training for. Does she know right from wrong? Will she act against injustice and protect those who are vulnerable?
Will she know the correct foundation garment to wear under a strapless top? Obviously I will continue parenting for as long as humanly possible but the framework is now well and truly in place and so begins her slow emancipation from us and into the real world.