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First Day of High School, French Kisses and Thimbles

I have a fourteen-year-old son. Today he starts high school.

These two sentences blow my mind into the kind of oblivion that’s hard to stumble back from.

I needed to go back in time, you see. I needed to remember where I was all those years ago when I started high school. Most days I feel like I’m still there…walking the halls, worrying, planning, enjoying, worrying some more…I have recurring school nightmares all.the.time.

So I found my diary from 1992. That’s 28-years-ago. *Insert expletive here*

I wrote an entry the day before I started high school. I was hopeful. I was worried. I was scared. I literally wrote that sentence.

I’m scared. So I’ll escape into the world fo a book. Goodnight. 

I was scared of ‘everyone calling me D’s little sister‘…Oh, how my identity crisis raged. Oh, how I’ve changed. Oh, how my coping mechanisms haven’t!

I think it’s important that I reach back into my life at these junctures. They are big. Really big. Momentous. Not only to consider who I was back then…and consider who I am now, but to recognize what I’ve passed onto my kids in terms of their identities and coping mechanisms.

Jett was excited. Confident. He wasn’t worried (I asked him!). He requested that his dad join him for the initial drop-off. I’ll admit that made me…shrink a little. He probably didn’t want his mom there – crying. That’s probably what I would have done. (When the hubby told me everything that happened, he said: You would have cried. So, I would have cried.) I know his choice wasn’t personal or meant to make me feel anything negative. The thing is, we’re raising a human with strength enough to speak his needs and show his confidence. I get it. I appreciate his confidence and excitement. My worry DNA isn’t standing out and taking the lead within him. That’s a good thing!

I think for me…as a mother, and especially as a writer, the reason I want to ‘be’ there for these momentous events is because I want to witness them. I want to hold the energy, take photos in my mind of what happens, take in the sights, smells, sounds…to remember with him. But one can witness in many ways. I know he’ll tell me everything that happened, how he felt at every step of the way. And, I’m gonna meet him at the school after his orientation, so I’ll be there for that part.

It’s just…I feel like this is one of those parenting moments…where the meaning feels bigger, heavier, more cellular. And perhaps the lesson in this incredible moment is that I’m to discover a different version of witnessing. I’m to rediscover my own experience of ‘first days’…to cry, oh yes, to cry…but in the comfort of the beautiful writing space my dreams have created…while listening to jazz from the 1920s…while the fall wind promises that changes keeps on coming…to let the sun’s rays fall onto the pages of my childhood diary and illuminate who I was…

What’s so very interesting is that the next entry isn’t until November 1, 1992 – two months into school! In it I write about how I joined sports teams, how I made new friends, how my identity crisis slipped away as I immersed myself in school life. And, my ‘new’ worry was to indulge my ‘phobia of kissing‘. Golly, that one makes me roar with laughter. Indeed, I had a very serious french kissing phobia. My how times change.

Even though I feel, on the inside, like I’m a fourteen-year-old girl…and even younger some days, the reality is that I’m a 42-year-old woman with two kids. Miller is starting grade seven (virtually). Did you know I do not have a journal entry for the start of grade seven? I can remember though, that I was happy with my teacher. I was excited to be one year closer to grade eight. I felt nervous to start school but comfortable knowing what to expect. I had a crush on Jimmy. I was terrified of kissing him. But, ironically, during the winter of my grade seven year, I would experience my first french kiss. It was pretty bad…thus increasing my terror to full-on phobia for the years to come.

My daughter shares my anxiety-riddled DNA, but she is way more confident than I was. She is not under anyone’s shadow as I so diligently placed myself back then…I marvel at her wisdom and curiosity. She makes me laugh so hard I pee. And, she writes in her journal too. So when she’s a mom, if she chooses to be one, if she can be one, she’ll be able to look back too…to remember, reflect, rediscover.

This is happening. One child…er, one young man beginning high school. One young woman beginning grade seven. One older woman reflecting.

An update on my forthcoming collection of poetry is due! We are about seven months away from the release, providing things go smoothly! So far, so good! My final draft is with my trusted and fantastic editor. I’ll receive her notes and then do the final edits. The cover questionnaire is complete. I feel…different about this collection. It’s different. I’m different. I feel…well, I can’t quite put how I feel into words, honestly. Mostly because the words are so freshly pressed…grief still has a strong hold on my heart…though Nonna is so alive in my soul…she’s here inside even though she’s gone on the outside. Love moves us, still.

My intention is to keep up you updated with what’s happening so we can adventure this road to publication together. Many, many thanks to those who have been with me already on this journey. Thank you to Aimee and Abbey from Palimpsest!

If you’d like to watch the book launch for Dorothy Mahoney’s Ceaseless Rain, here it is!


What are you reading, friends?

I just finished reading The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend. What a spectacular, hilarious and heartfelt book!

I’ve started Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery by Melanie J. Fishbane

What are you writing, friends?

I’m in that gloriously scary place that is between projects…wondering what to dive into next…what gets priority…what gets stoked in dreamland…

There’s a memoir adaptation into a screenplay…there’s the young witch novel…there’s the women’s fiction…Ontario Arts Council Recommender’s Grants are open for business so there’s writing for that (kids’ picture books)…many projects to choose to work on!

Happy writing! Love big. Be safe.

2 thoughts on “First Day of High School, French Kisses and Thimbles

  1. Great post! I was so nervous the first day of grade 9. Grade 9 was not a great year, lol.
    Secret Diaries of Adrian Mole… I read that years ago.. omg I loved that! I seem to recall there was another book too, no? 😊


  2. Yes, there’s a whole load of books that follow Adrian as he grows up! I hope to read them too! Thanks for reading and commenting!


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