Yesterday, the Owl and the Rhino started school again. The Owl blithely went into his new high school, excited and optimistic, with a few butterflies but otherwise perfectly okay from the moment he stepped out of the car. In two years, he could be driving it!
The Rhino, my youngest, betraying his nervousness only by being completely dressed and ready incredibly early in the morning, chatted non-stop in the car until he saw a friend waiting outside his new junior high, then left me with barely a good-bye.
I thought, "They are growing up. They don't need me so much any more..." And I was sad, briefly, for their lost innocence. I liked being needed. I liked teaching them, learning with them, watching them grow, feeling like no one, no one in the world, knew these boys as I knew them. No one would ever understand the complexity of their emotions, what moved them, what scared them, what motivated them, the way I did. I love the people they are becoming, but I miss the children they were.
Now, they are young men, forming new relationships with others.
The Rhino has a close-knit circle of friends, kids he has known throughout elementary school, that continue to exchange emails regularly, boys and girls. They go through cycles of crushes and misunderstandings, petty arguments and secret pacts, making up and splitting up and coming back together. Along the way, he forms new peripheral friendships with enviable ease, adding to the circle with a confidence he never inherited from his Mom.
The Owl, less trusting and more reserved, has a small, select group of friends he likes and trusts, boys who share his classes and his academic prowess. Some younger students already look up to him as the resident genius who helped them through seventh grade, accolades he secretly enjoys while feigning indifference. And there is a another group (though I doubt he realizes it) of girls who have started looking at him in a certain way, following him with their eyes, greeting him in the hallways, slipping him into a mental column under Potential Boyfriend Material.
It's a new chapter for me, too, learning to let go a little. Making myself loosen my grip on them enough to allow them to grow into these lives they are making for themselves, not hovering, but still there when they need me.
Support Mom. Chauffeur Mom. And hopefully, still the Cool Mom.