Do you have a high school senior at home? This letter is for you.
Dear Mom of a High School Senior,
If you’re feeling the need to spoil your child a little this year — a need to go out of your way to help them, hang out with them, and do sweet things for them a little more than usual — I’m here to tell you to go for it. This year will go by quickly, and you will not regret making it all (or at least primarily) about your child.
We spoiled our oldest son when he was a senior
When my oldest child, Jack, was a high school senior a few years ago, his younger siblings often called it “The Year of Jackie.” I did not deny it, and I did not apologize.
They were being a tad dramatic. None of my other children suffered from a lack of attention, affection, or necessities. But there was something distinctly Jack-centered about that year. When I baked cookies, it was usually Jack’s favorite kind. I made a lot of his favorite meals and bought more of his favorite snacks. I doted on him — not really more than the others, but more than this independent, oldest child of mine had let me dote on him in years. I guess we both knew that things were going to change. I think we both wanted to make the most of that last year.
All through high school, Jack took AP classes but rarely asked me for help with his homework, even though I am an English teacher. We didn’t discuss the books he was reading or the papers due. But suddenly, during The Year of Jackie, he wanted my help proofreading scholarship essays and applications. I loved it. I hopped on every chance to do things for him: I folded his laundry. I ran his errands. I looked for ways to make him feel special. But more than that, I was also looking for ways to make myself feel needed.
I needed to mother Jack that year in a way that his personality and the busyness of a house full of kids hadn’t let me do in a long time. I delighted in our trips to colleges, hours alone in the car with him, and time to talk.
I was also frantic to get in last-minute parenting tips, advice, and instructions — anything I was afraid we had somehow missed over the years.
Did he know how to use an ATM? Did he see the importance of looking people in the eye? Of going to church even when he was too tired? Of reading good books, changing his toothbrush regularly, and calling his grandparents?
From significant life lessons to minor housekeeping, I felt compelled to teach and instruct him in everything I could think of. It wasn’t easy holding back, but I did my best. I wanted him to be ready to leave home, but I wouldn’t say I wanted to send him bolting out the door.
I wanted him to miss home, but I did not want him to be too homesick. I cooked and baked more during The Year of Jackie. I envisioned him sitting around the dorm telling his friends about his mom’s homemade potato soup or fantastic pecan pie. I hoped he would miss my cooking.
During The Year of Jackie, I hugged him tighter and more often, and he let me. I lingered with him after dinner and delighted in even the most casual conversations. I tried not to hover, but I soaked in as much Jack time as possible.
Still, no matter how I doted and helped and lingered, time did not slow down. Senior year flew by. But it was a great year. Now we have The Weekend of Jackie occasionally, and the other kids don’t complain too much. They miss him too.
Next year will be The Year of Mary, a couple of years after that, The Year of Kitty, and, finally, The Year of Chester.
Maybe my other kids’ last years will be a little easier. Though graduation does change things, I know now that graduation isn’t the end. They are still my kids. They still need me. And they do come home. After all, I bake a fantastic pecan pie.
More to Read:
Dear Seniors, Here is What We Will and Won’t Do for You