The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 15, 2012

Mike Pound: High school another first for teenager

— It’s just another first.

When you become a parent, there are a lot of firsts. The first tooth. The first wobbly step. The first word. The first day of preschool. The first day of kindergarten. The first arrest.

OK, that last one doesn’t happen all the time, and it’s probably not one that goes into a scrapbook somewhere. But if it did happen, it would qualify as a first.

The point is, when you become a parent, you are constantly faced with another first. Just when you get one first out of the way, along comes another. I don’t know this for a fact, since my wife and I have only one child, but I suspect that when you have multiple children, some of those firsts run together.

I base that on the way my parents handled firsts in my family. I have six brothers and sisters, and I seem to recall that my parents didn’t make as big a deal out of certain firsts as they once did. I seem to recall that on my first day of school, my mom walked into the living room, pointed to those of us who had to go to school and said, “You, you and you. Go to school. The rest of you, stay here.”

At least that’s the way I remember it.

But if you have only the one kid, I suspect you make a bigger deal out of those firsts than other parents. And when I say “you,” I mean my wife.

This morning is our 14-year-old daughter’s first day of high school. I suppose, as firsts go, the first day of high school is a pretty big deal. I’m not sure it’s as big a deal as Emma’s first day of kindergarten, but it’s a big deal nonetheless.

Emma has spent most of the summer either looking forward to high school or not thinking about high school. What she would do is look forward to high school until she got nervous about high school, and when that happened, she would try to not think about high school until some moron would bring it up.

Me: Hey, what are you doing?

Emma: Nothing.

Me: Thinking about high school?

Emma: DAAAAAAAAD!!!!

On Tuesday evening, we dropped by Emma’s high school for an open house. We walked around the school with hundreds of other high school students and their parents and tried to find Emma’s classrooms so we could meet her teachers. Emma’s high school is large. You could fit the entire student body of my old high school into a custodian’s closet at Emma’s school. Earlier this week, Emma and my wife walked through the school when it wasn’t so crowded and found her classrooms. But even with that early visit, Emma still had trouble finding some of her classes Tuesday night.

“I’m sure your teachers will cut you some slack if you’re a few minutes late for class the first few days,” I said.

“Be quiet,” Emma said.

She said that a lot Tuesday evening. She also said, “Would you not talk to my teachers so much?”

Emma was trying to create some sort of impression with her fellow high school students, and clearly I wasn’t helping create the proper impression. That’s OK. Sometimes parents get their own firsts. Tuesday was the first time I embarrassed Emma in her high school.

I’m writing this on Wednesday afternoon. Sometime this morning, I’m sure that Emma, my wife and I will pile into the car and drive to the high school. When we get there, I’m sure Emma will try to slide out of the car before my wife gives her a kiss goodbye. She won’t make it, but she’ll try. Then she’ll walk away from the car and head off to her future.

Where that next first is waiting.

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