I’m really not sure how I got to this point. When I say it feels like I was just dropping him off at kindergarten, I absolutely mean it. But here we are…..I am looking up at my strawberry blonde soon-to-be freshman wondering if he will behave in high school at all like his parents did and hoping that he is better than we were. My mom posted an article on Facebook about ninth grade boys and it really got me thinking about all I wish for Kinnick as he begins a journey this fall, which will ultimately be the start of his independence. And I just threw up a little writing that sentence….

Wish 1: Look around you, look at the older guys, look at the choices they are making and the futures they have planned for themselves and decide what kind of guy you want to be. Oh, I know you see the funny kid who smokes pot and dates the pretty cheerleader and that seems like it might be fun. And I know you see the athletes because I know your heart is set on Friday Night Lights and homeruns. Take your time. Notice the small things. Are they polite to the janitors and the bus drivers? Do they treat girls in a respectful manner? Do they try their best at school and conditioning when the coach isn’t watching? Find someone you admire and then be like them.

Wish 2: You leave high school knowing what cool but wise parents your dad and I are. The trick to this is there will be moments when you won’t like us…..you might be mad and think we are unfair. But guess what, buddy? That is the exact thing that is supposed to happen. We will have rules you don’t like and we won’t let you do everything that your friends get to do. Don’t even get me started on the rules when it comes to girls….What I hope you will eventually figure out is that it is only because we love you so very much and want the best for you. And there is no doubt we are cool. You have seen your dad on the mower…

Wish 3: High school provides you a training ground for how to do life. I hope you have so much fun. I want you to have funny friends and interesting teachers. I think it is important to learn about hard work. I’m hoping Coach Miller helps with that starting next week. You should learn how to keep the friends you have because loyalty is valuable, but I also hope you make new friends because that is an awesome skill to have. The world is such a great big place with all sorts of different ideas and foods and cultures. I want you to be curious and love learning.

Wish 4: Leave Solon High School starting to know who you are, what you stand for and what you want out of life. I have seen your personality grow and change. You make your dad and I laugh every day, and your gigantic heart is something I am jealous of. I admire your dedication to teams and to your goals. The leadership skills you have are just starting to show. As you learn and watch those around you, I hope you begin to understand what kind of man you want to be. Choose a path that allows you to be passionate about your work. Surround yourself with people who will make you better.

I know you are usually only granted three wishes but I needed four. It is hard to think about all the what ifs and the icky stuff that is coming my way the next four years but how cool is it to think about the fact that someday he will be a grown-up who can be my friend? It won’t always be fights about getting off the PS4 and doing his homework. Eye rolls and grunts will be replaced with thanks and conversation. This will all happen, won’t it? Good luck to all you mommas out there. Just remember, whether they are going to kindergarten, high school or even college, change is hard. Give yourself some grace and give your mom tribe some love.