So our first born daughter, at barely eighteen-years-old was going away to school. It was time for me to grow up. It was on a Wednesday in June that her dad arrived home and inquired as to why so many of her friends were gathered in our basement again. This was moments before he noticed that the boys in the gang were in their boxers. Forever a teenage sympathizer myself, (and I think you can get arrested for that) I handed him the ice for his drink and said calmly, “Some of them just wrote their last exam. I think they’re feeling celebratory.”
“Will there be another party when the rest of them write their last exam?”
“Oh, come on Dad, this isn’t a party,” Zoë told him. Zoë’s a good kid. If it were a party she would let us know. Eight kids having a water fight, with the boys stripping down to boxers, then all of them whipping up a pan of nachos in the oven and testing my teenage sympathizer levels with their rap music, was definitely not a party.
Will demanded further explanation. “Wasn’t there a celebration for this already? Didn’t they call it graduation? Wasn’t that the night we spent a zillion bucks dressing Zoë up so she could sit at a banquet for two hours, have three dances and change back into her street clothes in a washroom like a super hero, before vanishing for the real celebration out of our sight? Further more, wasn’t there a party here three days later, after we watched five hundred of them march across the stage – symbolizing once again that they were done?”
“Oh Dad, that was convocation, not the end of exams.”
Zoë explained further to her clueless father – “This is the last day of exams…” she lowered her voice and stuffed a nacho into her mouth, “… at least for some people.” Zoë and a few of the others still had four more days before their last exam and then it would be their turn to be giddy and celebratory… and in their underwear.
“You see,” I said, “maybe this is the universal plan to help us let her go. If they drive us crazy over the summer, it will be easier to separate.” I choked on the s-word, confirming in my mind that I needed to be some Shirley Partridge type of mom, hip but mature enough to set some rules, take back the stereo – play Fleetwood Mac on it instead of Bowling For Soup, or take her shopping for school supplies and perhaps study street maps of Vancouver with her and teach her how to grocery shop for ripe melons and reasonable cuts of meat.
But I wasn’t ready for all that. There was something magical about the summer after high school. I was feeling more like Lorelai Gilmore, the mother-as-friend from television’s Gilmore Girls, then the more sensible (though pop band singer) Shirley Partridge. The mood of the young adults was contagious. At that point we still had the party for Zoë’s eighteenth birthday to plan, and there had to be some sort of event before she officially went away. Forget the grocery shopping lessons, bring on the nachos, I said, kicking off my shoes and preparing to run through the sprinkler.