January 22, 2013 at 7:30 am | Posted in Life and Living | Leave a comment
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This past weekend I went to my old high school to see the senior show.  My best friend from when I was in high school was directing it, and I always go to her shows to support her.  But this show was different for me than any in the past.  Aside from being in my old high school, I actually knew some of the kids.  They were kids that I babysat when they were 3,4, and 5 years old.  As the show went on, I didn’t even recognize 2 of them, but 1 I knew, and when she started singing her solo, I was amazed and almost brought to tears with the voice that came from her.  I was so proud, all these years later.

Truth be told — if someone was to point out one of my babysitters from when I was a kid, I would not remember them to save my life.  But I couldn’t resist.  I recognized the parents of one of the kids in the audience and had to introduce myself.  I hadn’t seen them since I was 17, but I don’t look that different and they remembered me.  They pulled their son over to meet me again, and I knew he wouldn’t remember me. Like I said, he was way too young.  But before me was a man, a 16 year old man that I used to care for.  It was a very sobering reality that I really am not a kid anymore. How can I be?  The kids I watched aren’t kids anymore.

Back to the girl with the solo.  I got to see her and her parents after the show and was amazed that she actually remembered me.  She was one of my favorite kids (I probably watched over 20 kids in my 6 year career as a babysitter), and she said to me, “You were my favorite babysitter!” and I just melted.  I could hold on to that moment forever.

In watching the show, I was really taken back to when I was once on that same stage.  I remember my relationships and the social situation in school.  I remember and still reminisce about the crazy and sometimes stupid things I did at that age.  As I watched these young men and women bop around on stage for what is likely to be for most of them the last time they ever do something like that, I realized that it was their turn, that these young people were doing all the things that I did.

After a wide-eyed mini heart attack I realized that that was the time to do this.  I came to college way ahead of many of my classmates because of my experiences in high school.  Through my work I see a very different kind of teenager, an urban teenager.  They don’t have the same life experiences as these suburban kids for sure.  They have to deal with much more serious stuff.  These kids have very little to worry about and can make many dumb mistakes knowing that in the end, everything will be okay.

I also realized this.  Some of the emotions you have in high school don’t change.  I look at people I knew when I was young who married their high school sweethearts and I realize how important those formative years really are.  What age does for you is give you more time for more experiences, more time apart from what has happened to review with a new perspective.  There is a lot that you learn, but you can be just as confused or just as certain in your emotions at 30 as you are at 18.

In being with these kids, I immediately felt the need to care for them, to mentor them, kind of like a big sister.  They are about to go off on their next journey, one where they will have to take on a new world of responsibility that they never knew before.  I wanted to hold them close and let them know that it will be fun and it will be okay.  But somehow, they will learn this their own way, as I have.

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