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“Have you got your schedule?”


“Have you got your lunch?”


“Your token?”


“Have a great day!”


And off he goes. Out the door to the streetcar and then the subway to his high school, almost nine kilometres away.

I have a vivid memory of him at 9 months old. I’d just dropped him off at his Dads’ and as I was pulling away I saw them walking up the street – the kid happily on one dad’s shoulders looking around — and I started crying. “There he is,” I thought, “out in the world without me.”

So I was proud of myself when I only shed a tear or two as he headed off to high school this fall.

This is huge. Over 1,800 kids, imposed independence, administrative indifference, higher academic expectations, team sports, girls, sex, drugs and, it seems, culinary largesse.

“Me and Mathew went to Banjara for Indian Buffet at lunch today. We think we might go to the Mandarin next week.”

On the eatery front, grade 9 is the new first year university. At 13, I’d maybe been to a variety store on my own. Maybe.

The internet is full of resources and (mostly American) tips, pamphlets and videos geared toward students and parents to help them through the “exciting and terrifying” transition to high school. I followed tip 2: Advocate Involvement: Encourage your kid to join a sport, club or activity.

“Why don’t you go out for the tennis team?”

“They did tryouts on Rosh Hashanah when I wasn’t there.”  Do I call and make a stink?

“How about swimming?”

“I think that happens in March?”

“March?” I don’t think so. Now do I call?

It’s week 7 and so far he’s loving it. He hasn’t skipped a beat or any classes that I know of. He’s getting up and leaving on time; showered and dressed (though not yet shaved), he has slipped — anxiety-free — into the fast-moving stream of slightly higher education.

Me, I’m still shell-shocked. Not freaked out but treading water, wondering how it will all turn out. Isn’t that’s our job? To actively wonder (worry) how things will go in a new world that provides only the vaguest of details to work with and where mothering tasks are less prescribed?

“Any homework?” Yup. Did it

“Any projects?”  Yup, working on them.

I’ll figure it out. I’ll get through this transition, and stop wondering if the high school mom job description was lost in the mail. Start integrating this new reality and making it up as I go along – as I always have.

Most kids are magically, gloriously adaptable. Most adults have lost the ability. Our struggle is to nurture it in our kids even if it makes us queasy. I’m grateful to have one of those kids who needs me less and less (that’s the desired result, right?) but I’m grateful when now and again I have a job to do.

Yesterday the French teacher called to say that my kid was being disruptive and silly in class and had a weak grasp on last year’s material – as evidenced by a not-quite-passing mark on the quiz. I felt my back straighten as I moved into the familiar territory of responsible, informed mom and I was seized by contradictory emotional responses.

1. Relief: The high school French teacher bothered to call and draw my attention to problems – hurray!

2. Disappointment: The high school French teacher called to draw my attention to problems!

3. Yay, a job for me to do.

Aviva Rubin is a writer and mom to two boys in Toronto. She blogs at NothingInModeration.ca


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