Just like I imagined, having a high school senior girl is very different from having a high school senior boy.
Boys are black and white. Read: simple.
Girls are Technicolor. Read: not so simple.
Maybe that’s why I feel like I’m a character on the popular tv show Survivor.
My current senior finished her high school basketball career (and basketball career in general) last night 200 miles from home at the regional playoffs. One game from heading to the state tournament. For the past five months, we have logged more miles on my car than a seasoned truck driver following her tournaments and games across the state. Oh, but it’s been fun.
Her team lost a hard-fought game and I lost my voice. Praise God the refs appear to be deaf because they were certainly getting an earful from both sides of the court. And I won’t confess or deny that a tad bit of Tiger Mama was beginning to come out in me.
When she walked off the court, I felt like my heart was walking off the court with her. How on earth did this happen? I was just getting comfortable in my seat and really learning the nitty-gritty of the game and poof. Done. Lights out.
No more of asking the other parents, “How many fouls does such-and-such have?” “What the heck just happened???” “Wait, wasn’t that a charge?” And one mom in particular will be glad to not sit by me anymore. When her daughter made a great play, she jumped up to cheer just as I went to push her in congratulatory way and I think she flew 3 feet over into someone else in the stands.
Oops. Glad the trainer was nearby.
When the game was over last night, I think I just walked off with a blank, thousand yard stare on my face (one my husband has seen a hundred times). I looked at the parents and realized the camaraderie that we shared was over. Ugh.
The late drive back home last night wasn’t that much fun. Caroline went through the entire list:
“I won’t get to play with these girls EVER AGAIN. I love them.”
“I won’t get to play for my coach EVER AGAIN. I love him.”
“I won’t put these knee pads on EVER AGAIN. I love them.” (This is when I knew reasoning with her wasn’t going to happen.)
I wanted to say I don’t feel like I’m going to sleep EVER AGAIN but I kept my mouth shut. This was about her sadness, not my fatigue.
The old adage “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone” only seems to hit home with me when something is actually gone. I can be warned time and time again to appreciate something while I’m in it, but my short sightedness takes over, I get consumed with the moment and I look back and say without fail, “Why didn’t I savor that more!?”
This is the first time all senior year that Caroline has had to say a final goodbye to something. She’s been playing basketball as long as there were high tops in her size. She’s been beat up time and time again in the game. From her tailbone, hip, thumb, back, achilles, ankles and wrist, there aren’t many places on her body that haven’t been affected by the game. Praise God she has my hard head or a concussion or two would be on the list.
But thankfully, we were able to get those things fixed.
Oh, but her heart is now the most beat up. And only time can fix that. No amount of athletic tape, ibuprofen or ice packs will help.
I think what she realized last night on the car ride home was, yes, she loved the game of basketball and she will miss it like crazy, but she loved being with her team and coaches the most. Especially her sweet head coach.
Teamwork and relationships over hoops. If she can fully comprehend the importance of relationships at a young age, she will have a good shot (no pun intended) at keeping her priorities in line.
On our car ride home last night, I felt pretty helpless. I couldn’t take away her pain. I could only listen. And buy us a big plate of nachos.
Why does soothing her have to add to my waistline? Because that’s what good moms do, right? They eat nachos with their crying daughter. Have you ever heard anyone say, “Here honey, have a carrot, it will make you feel better”? Maybe I haven’t because those kind of people wouldn’t want to hang out with me.
The rest of this semester will be full of goodbyes for her. But I can remind her that when it’s hard to say goodbye, it simply means you have created rich memories and lasting relationships. And that will help propel her into the next season in life.
And a big plate of nachos can’t hurt.