If I'd needed something to underline the fact that we've entered a new era in G's life, I got it by seven a.m. on the first day of seventh grade. At her small, familiar old school, the first day always meant a stream of parents walking hand-in-hand with little girls sporting braids and fancy barrettes, little boys in new, dark-blue jeans, and tiny kindergartners laboring under backpacks bigger than they were. At her giant new school, I drove past a crowd of unaccompanied teenagers who looked old enough to be driving themselves, stopped, and waited as G gave me a casual "see you later," hopped out of the car, slung her bag over her shoulder and walked away in a pair of my knee-high boots that she'd successfully campaigned to borrow. I'd warned her that those boots would hurt by the end of the day, but she didn't believe me. When I picked her up late that afternoon, the first words out of her mouth were "OMG, my feet are killing me. I'm never wearing these again." I suppose when it comes to some things, experience is the best teacher.
Aside from sore feet and a broken P.E. locker, her first week as a seventh-grader was supremely smooth and easy. She has six classes--biology, honors history, honors English, P.E., pre-algebra and vocal music--and already seems to have mastered traveling between them, as well as using the library and navigating the food service lines at lunch. (That said, I think I'm going back to packing a lunch for her, because on three out of four days, the only vegetarian item was pizza, and on the fourth day she had to get pasta and pick out the bits with no meat sauce.) She says her teachers are nice and is happy about all the subjects she's taking, so from her perspective, everything is roses.
For my part, there's been some emotional adjusting to do. I'm not sitting around sniffling soppily over her baby photos, mind you. If anything, I'm excited for her, because it became obvious to me last year that she'd outgrown the confines of elementary school and was ready for something new. But at the same time, this transition has really driven in the fact that she's getting older and the number of years she'll be at home with me is dwindling fast. Of course I've known ever since she was born that one day she'd get her driver's license, graduate from high school, go off to college, be grown up; but these always seemed like things that would happen far off in some hazy, half-imagined future. Now they seem like real events that are coming soon (very soon - she can get her learner's permit in less than three years) so I'd better start mentally preparing myself for them, not to mention figuring out what I want to do with myself after she flies the nest.
Of course she's only in seventh grade and it's not as if she's moving across the country tomorrow, and I don't want to spoil the next few years by constantly focusing on what's going to happen later. But time has a way of sneaking past faster than you think, and I don't want it to catch me off guard, either. Looks as if she and I both have a lot of work to do.