I find myself caught in one of those periods where I really just want to hug my kids tight and stop time.
We’re in a good place right now. School is going well. Both kids are blossoming. Hockey is going well for Ryan, and we see a path for him to continue to play in high school.
Ahh, high school. It hangs over us like a looming test, the way all Ryan’s school changes have. Oddly, or perhaps not, Ryan appears less concerned about it than we do. Maybe he hasn’t turned his attention to it yet. Maybe he’s just ready.
I know there will be challenges ahead, good days and bad. I took Ryan to an orientation meeting for incoming student-athletes last night. Ryan found his hockey buddies and asked me to go sit with the other parents. I feigned chagrin, secretly pleased that he has friends to sit with.
I listened to the athletic director outline the program for athletes to achieve and maintain academic eligibility. Every time he talked about the looming “wake-up call” of the rigors of high school, I looked over at Ryan to see if he was registering a response. I kind of hoped he was tuned out. The last thing we need is a surge of anxiety about something that is still four months off.
When we were reunited in the car on the way home, I asked Ryan what he had taken from the presentations. He absorbed most of it. If he was worried about anything, he didn’t betray his secret.
We worry, of course, because that is what parents do. I listened to the student presentations about athletics having given them the discipline to finish a project or study for an exam at midnight. I thought of my son rushing off to bed between 9 and 9:30 most nights. I wondered how he will handle it all.
I am comforted by the support system that has strengthened him to this point. Of course we will be dealing with a new team at the high school, and what is new is often scary. Deep down, I am confident that whatever he needs to continue his academic success in high school, we will be able to put in place.
I worry most about the anxiety that is still the biggest impediment to his achievement. I worry about it getting ramped up by the added workload in high school.
But here, too, I take comfort from Ryan. He is so much better equipped to handle these challenges because of the nurturing that has taken place over the last decade. He has the tools to communicate his worries to us, or to the appropriate professionals. He recognizes anxiety for what it is — sometimes irrational fear that can prevent him from doing and enjoying what he wants to. This growth gives him the motivation to follow the suggested strategies to mitigate it.
It’s at times like these that I need to follow my own advice. Slow down. Focus on the present. Do not get caught up in worrying about things too far down the road. Take comfort in the knowledge that whatever challenges arise, we will confront them head on, find the needed modifications and supports, and move forward.
Easier said than done, of course, especially when time feels like it’s racing forward at a pace that I’m uncomfortable with.