As she got out of the car it hit me. I’M NOT 16 ANYMORE. Ok, I realize this should have occurred to me long ago (I’m 44) but as the cool autumn air rushed into the car when my 13-year-old daughter opened the door, the reality tackled me like a freshman quarterback.
She was the one going to the high school football game and I was the one dropping her off.
In that moment I could smell the Parsippany High School (my alma mater) football field. The popcorn, the grass, the stolen cigarettes underage kids were smoking behind the concession stand. I could feel the rush of nighttime air as my dad dropped me off in my cheerleading uniform and wished me good luck. As I watched my 13-year-old trot down to the field with a friend to meet their boyfriends and watch the game, I felt nostalgic, and then horrified. Nothing good ever happened under the bleachers at Parsippany High, and I’m pretty sure not that much has changed since 1988.
‘Wait, I didn’t give you enough advice,’ my inner cheerleader screamed. ‘That blanket isn’t warm enough!’ ‘You can’t go I changed my mind.’ ‘Make sure you’re home by 10.’ My insane ramblings went on inside my head as she disappeared into the crowd, and yes, the bleachers. My nervousness shifted to envy as I realized she was going to have a great night. This is the beginning of her high school career, football, friends, boys, stolen moments under the bleachers (oy). This along with the heartache, disappointment, hard work, insecurities, new friendships, and fractured relationships, will all comprise her teenage years. With another breath of that football Friday night air I was glad I was not 16 anymore.
As I drove home to my 10 and 9 year-olds I was grateful their idea of a great night was still to snuggle on the couch with me and watch a movie. But when it’s their turn to get dropped off at the high school football field, I’ll remember to give them warmer blankets.
This week I wish you good memories and gratitude for wherever you are in life at this moment.
Jordana’s Varsity letter