Wolfgang’s high school graduation has turned into a series of numbers, and a lot of counting. The ceremony is on Saturday, and I am tearing up just thinking about that.
Let’s count down.
Thirteen. 13 years since we started this school journey, with that walk down the street to kindergarten that very first day. 13 years since his put his hands on his face and said “Don’t worry mommy. The teacher will keep me safe.” (I cried harder than any kid that first day of kindergarten.)
Thirteen years since the first day I dropped him off at Bennett Elementary School to go out into the world and learn things I could not teach him. Thirteen years since I bought him his first backpack (Transformers, if I recall correctly) and packed him a lunch in his new lunchbox.
Thirteen years of school supply lists, parent-teacher conferences, after school activities and homework-checking. Thirteen years of signing field trip permission slips and volunteering with the PTA. Thirteen years of fabulous teachers, funny mom friends and first (and last) days of school.
Twelve. Number of times I have run my hands over the sash he will wear for his graduation (just today). Number of times I have burst into tears (also, just today), thinking of what he was like as a tiny kindergartener, with his proper posture and his vast knowledge of planets.
Number of times I have gotten a lump in my throat because I don’t know what comes next, but I’m really excited to see what happens.
Eleven. How many graduation episodes of television shows I have watched to try and make myself immune to graduations altogether, so I don’t cry.
Incidentally, it is also the number of times I have failed to “inoculate” myself against the ugly crying that will inevitably happen when my baby puts on that grad gown and weird hat. (Seriously, what’s up with that hat?)
(The ones that made me cry the hardest were Rory’s 2 graduation episodes from Gilmore Girls, the ORIGINAL 90210 high school graduation and Glee. Weeping so loud, my neighbors text me to make sure I am ok. I am gonna be a hot mess at graduation, people.)
Ten. The number of times I have checked Wolfgang’s epic to-do list. Also, number of times I have texted him in the last 24 hours to remind him of his to-do list. Also, the number of times he has rolled his eyes so hard at me that I’m worried they will stick like that up inside his skull.
Probably also the number of times I’ve sighed in the past week, trying to wrangle tickets for graduation, grad party plans, whereabouts of the actual human graduating and the schedule of grad events.
Nine. The grade Wolfgang was entering when I started to panic about graduation.
It seems like a far-off dream until your baby actually STARTS HIGH SCHOOL. You have this adorable tiny human who you’ve raised and nurtured and fed and tried to not yell at when they wreck your new dress with their muddy handprints and then all of a sudden it’s a race to high school commencement ceremony and they are an adult and leaving you and yes I am crying right now, hush.
Eight. How many graduation-related posts I’ve attempted to write and had to abandon because I was crying so hard, I gave myself a headache. Number of posts I have in my drafts folder that I may have to wait until NEXT graduation season to complete.
Also, the number of pretty awesome kids who have come up to me to hug me in the past week to tell me how much they appreciate the times I’ve chaperoned a field trip, or let them text me in the middle of the night with questions about life, or took their photo for football.
The number of faces of growing adults I’ve held in my hands in the past week and said “you are so welcome, I am so proud of you” to.
Seven. Seven years of awkward band concerts, with Row Row Row your Boat played in 4 different keys and tempos. Seven years of letter grades to worry about (and for me to obsessively check online).
Seven years since I’ve been able to help Wolfgang with his math homework.
Seven years of after-school activities and clubs, of “let me do it, mom!” and trying to run his schedule on his own. Seven years of multiple teachers every year, of “which class is your 5th period?” and really confusing Back To School nights. Seven years of philosophical discussions on whether or not I should be in the PTA, and volunteering quietly for any and everything I had time for.
Six. Number of years I have done this alone, since my now-ex-fiancé and I split. Number of years I worried about how to pay for yearbooks and new shoes and new backpacks. Number of years I’ve lost sleep over how to encourage Wolfgang to do his homework (and actually hand it in).
Number of years I’ve worried I’m screwing him up, and number of years I’ve realized that he’s a good human and I’ve done ok as a mother.
Five. Five days until the graduation ceremony. Five more days of him being my “baby”, before he dons that cap and gown and shakes the principal’s hand and gets his diploma. Five more days of me ugly crying every time someone mentions graduation, or I look across the room at his cap and gown hanging.
Four. I can count the number of days we have left in high school on one hand.
Four more opportunities to pack a lunch, bundle Wolfgang up into the car and ferry him to school. Four more days to check his homework, to make sure he gets up on time, to remind him to eat breakfast. Four more days until we are done with public school.
Four more days of me yelling “HAVE A GREAT DAY I LOVE YOU, MAKE GOOD CHOICES!” like I do most mornings as he closes the door behind him. Four.
Three. Number of boxes of Kleenex I have blown through while crying in the past month, thinking of the end of all of this.
Two. Number of “waterproof” mascaras I have test-run while preparing for all of this crying. (Troublemaker mascara from Urban Decay is NOT “anything proof” like they claim…didn’t even make it through the grad episode of Gilmore girls, thankyouverymuch.)
One. One more “last” event, a choir concert. One more event before graduation for me to embarrass Wolfgang thoroughly with my sobbing in public. One more choir concert. One more “senior recognition”. One more award ceremony, one more band picnic, just one more.
Countless. Number of memories I have of my baby. Of the time he corrected his kindergarten teacher (who had hung the solar system incorrectly). Of the first time I heard him sing on stage (playing Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast). Of all of the plays, the band concerts, the football and soccer games, the homework.
I am so incredibly proud of my son, of everything he’s done. I’m excited to watch him get his diploma this weekend and see where life will take him.