Struggling With Senioritis

February 5, 2014

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Leslie Anne Tarabella
 Several emails a week were popping onto my computer with titles like, “Senior Plans,” Senior News” or “Senior Moments.” I was highly insulted at first and immediately deleted them, until I realized that the messages weren’t aimed at me, but were instead legitimate reminders from the high school guidance counselor and various colleges that my eldest son is now a high school senior.

My son is handling his impending graduation with calmness and maturity. I, on the other hand, am losing my mind. A friend once told me that when your child leaves for college, God somehow makes you ready for them to leave. Really—and—truly ready, as in, “Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.” Teenagers have an uncanny way of pushing us to our limits.

But as of now, that time of shoving him out the door has yet to arrive. I know other people may think this same thing about their child, but my son really is different, and I just need a little more time with him. I like having him around.

Leslie Anne Tarabella

He’s kind, funny, charming and an all around great son. He’s trustworthy, makes wise choices and we’ve never had to punish him for being (too) late or getting (too) wild. Towels on the floor and not studying enough are the worst we get from him. Of course, as soon as I write this, Murphy’s Law dictates I’ll probably be getting a call from the principal or police chief any second, but as for this very moment, I have a really good kid.

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My main symptoms of Senioritis usually flare up around 3 or 4 in the morning. I’m jarred awake in a total panic, thinking things like, “He eats too many sweets. He’s going to become diabetic!” Or, “There’s no way he can possibly drive in a big city!” And then there’s a string of reminders for myself like, “I need to have a spare key made for his car, but then he’ll probably misplace it . . . I need to fix a first aid kit for him . . . better yet, I need to make sure there’s a nurse on campus.”

Leslie Anne TarabellaThe next morning, full of self induced fear, I try to remain calm and casual as I grab his giant shoulders and yell, “YOU NEED TO EAT MORE GREEN THINGS!”  The tall, serene teen then looks down and sighs, “MOM!” “You’ve got to stop this!”

But how can I stop? He doesn’t know everything he should know and I only have a few months left to teach him.

Leslie Anne TarabellaWhen he was five years old, he swore he would never drive, would attend a local college, and then live next door to me forever. I should have made him sign something to make it legal, because now he claims to not even remember any of those sacred promises. On top of everything else, now I have to worry about him having memory lapses.

But for now, he’s cool and relaxed, and I’m a crazy fool who keeps looking at his baby photos and digging through the drawer where I saved all his drawings of dinosaurs and R2-D2 he made at the K-1 Center.

It’s perfectly obvious to me why the term “senior” is applicable to both high school seniors and frazzled senior parents. Both groups are on the edge, ready to step into, or be pushed into, new unchartered territory. Ready or not, we’ll all have to find our way.

Maybe his dorm will need a nice senior housemother.

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This story first appeared in Gulf Coast Newspapers. 
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