Like Yesterday

I’m sitting on a rock facing the high school lacrosse field. The field that Hannah and Luke will most likely start to play on in 9 years. The field that I once played on when I was in high school (although I played AGAINST this team, not FOR it). The varsity girls and boys teams are practicing before me. The freshman are sitting on the bleachers watching.  Looking awkward and too small for their protective pads and uniforms.  Some other girls wearing a face full of makeup and shorts that barely cover their tushes, are sitting directly in front of me whispering and pointing at the obviously cool lacrosse guys doing their thing.  Even MY heart skipped a beat when one of them came up to the fence to say hi to the girls.  His shaggy hair covering his forehead and some of his blue eyes.  His confident smile and quick wave as he walked away.  There’s one girl sitting alone reading a book under a tree , a pair of track shoes at her side, who glances up every once in a while to look at the group of girls in front of me.  Her eyes rest on them for a few seconds at a time before they return to the pages of her book.

I am soaking it all in. A mix of emotions flow through me. I so loved this time of year in high school.  The smell of spring.  The sunlight extending past dinner time. The warmer air hitting my skin as I escaped the confines of the school walls to hit the field or the tennis court. The bond I felt with my team mates. The thrill of scoring goals, winning a game, getting noticed for something I was good at.

I also feel excitement and nervous anticipation as I look at the girls around me.  The ones that Hannah will sooner than I’d like to admit, become.  Will she stand with her lacrosse stick with her group of similar looking friends?  Will she be sitting alone under the tree with her running sneakers at her side?  Will she be coyly flirting with the lacrosse players, wearing clothes I don’t approve of?  Will she be in the school auditorium auditioning for a play?  These girls only “minutes” ago were riding their bikes with training wheels on their driveways.  Their moms looked at them and thought to themselves… I wonder what they’ll be like in high school.  And now there they are.  And here I am.

Along with my nostalgic glee and curiosity watching these teenagers, I’m also sitting here remembering my tougher days of high school.  The days I felt on the outside of the “in” crowd. The days I knew I was dissappointing my parents academically.  The days that I often maybe incorrectly felt my close friends were closer to each other than to me.  The days I just wanted “him” to notice me, but didn’t.  The days I appeared on the outside to have it all together but on the inside wasn’t happy.

I’m staring a lot at these kids right now.  Trying to bore a  hole into their heads to see how and what they’re feeling.  (I’m so happy Tim isn’t with me … he’s not a fan of my staring tendancies). Some of them appear at first glance so confident and self assured.  But the more I watch them, the more I see their shifty glances and awkward laughs.  One of the girls is obviously being excluded and is trying to get attention by talking louder and throwing out “What the fuck” and “Totally Bullshit” to gain some street cred.  I’m wondering where the girl under the tree fits in.  She seems so relaxed.  At ease.  Fine with her time alone.  But it’s possible she’s wishing to be a part of the crowd in front of her.  She could even just be pretending to read while really listening and staring, just as I am.

I want to grab all of these kids and pull them close to me.  To yell, “ENJOY THIS!  Love these days.  Be happy in these days.  APPRECIATE these days.”  But for them, these are some tough days.  Trying to figure out who they are and who they want to become.  Trying to understand where they fit in.  Where they DO fit in vs. where they WANT to fit in which sadly is often not the same place.  And so many of these kids don’t feel they have anyone to give them direction.  Their parents will tell them to “be themselves”.  That they’ll be happiest if they are just “themselves”.  But what 16 year old knows who THEY are?

I just want to tell these kids to feel proud of themselves.  What they are going through at 16 is not easy and they should be so proud.  I wish I was prouder of myself back then.  I should have been proud of how well I did in school (which was just Fine).  Proud of my fantastic, smart, sensible group of friends.  Proud of excelling at most sports.  That pride would have done great things for me, I’m sure of it.

I’m sitting here, on this rock, watching these kids like I was here yesterday.  My hair in a ponytail, field hockey stick in hand, mouth guard in my mouth, running with all my might down the field to score a goal. I have a smile on my face as I sit here remembering but I’m also feeling a tug of sadness. Maybe I’m missing these carefree days. Maybe I’m wallowing in the fact that I really didn’t appreciate the “ease” of those days more. Maybe I’m realizing that I didn’t appreciate the happiness that I felt in those days.  Because the tough days often overshadowed the happy ones.

Will I look back in another 20 years and think the same?  Will I look at a mom with a little five year old as I’m watching Hannah and Luke on the high school field and want to grab her and say, “Enjoy This!”?

Something tells me I will.  And that’s fine, as long as I make a point, starting TODAY to enjoy it too…

Because I know that day will feel like yesterday too.



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14 responses to “Like Yesterday

  1. Part of me really thinks that no teenager really understands it… they can’t, we couldn’t have. Even if someone told us (I think several people told me…) we wouldn’t have been able to do it. There’s too much self involvement that young 🙂
    But now, now is the time we really can enjoy life because we’re fully capable of it. Our kids come into this world and give us that gift, the capacity to look beyond ourselves and see the whole.
    Lovely post 🙂

  2. Oh Becca, would we have heard the adult who tried to tell us that these were the best days? I think that some things seem better in the glow cast by the past.

    I’m with you, making sure that I enjoy every moment with my boys, these years that seem so hectic and full of things to be done, but full of happiness and love.

    Because, just like high school or college doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, it was. And before you know it, Hannah and Luke will both be standing on that precipice of adolescence.

  3. How those tougher days felt like so much more of the picture than the happy ones! Still, I don’t wish for that time. I am glad to have what I’ve learned since then so that I can appreciate sitting at the edge of a field like this, with the ability to read the social dynamics you’ve captured so well here.

  4. I was that girl under the tree. So funny how the times change, the dress code changes, but the groups, activities, interactions, and overall awkwardness never do. I long to be able to steer my kiddos through it, and it scares me to know they’ll have to navigate it their own way.

  5. Many days I wonder what might have happened if someone in my life had just pulled me to the side and said, “Hey, don’t analyze it, just enjoy it.”

    Of course, stubborn teenage girls know way more than we do, right?

  6. Nicki

    Wow! I am sitting here with tears on my cheeks (maybe just a little PMS coming through today). Regardless of how carefree it looks as we look back or look at today’s teens, I would not want to be one. I know how hard it is from my own kids and it is truly nothing like it was when I was in high school.

    Great writing, Becca. Enjoy today!

  7. How tough high school felt at the time. I wish I’d taken more time to enjoy it. And yet, for some reason, I never thought that about NOW…that it seems tough, but I will miss this when the time has passed.

    Thanks for yet another amazing, thought-provoking post.

  8. Loved this post, Becca. I am the odd person who adored high school, almost unequivocally. I loved it so much I went on to teach it for many years. (Did I ever tell you that I coached lacrosse for two years? I knew nothing about it, but coached with a woman who had played in college; I was basically crowd control.) And you’re absolutely right about the electric days of spring and the dynamics among the groups in high school and, of course, about the ways in which youth feels like it’s wasted on the young. I suppose it isn’t really; maybe youth is about living in the moment in a way we have so much more trouble doing as we age.

  9. My heart was racing a bit as I read this post, you made me remember my own high school years. We live in the town where we went to school, where we met (I married my high school sweetheart) so the reminders are everywhere, but you described this time so perfectly, I could feel it all again. I remember the good times, the bad times, the roller coaster times, the stressful times. I just remember a whole lot of emotion and a whole lot of not knowing what to do with that emotion. It was the best of time and the worst of times.

    My blog post from a couple of weeks ago about the Bon Jovi concert touched on some of this, about how youth is wasted on the youth. How when we grow up things that seemed so hard then suddenly all come into perspective. You made a very good point here though, one we should be reminded of often. Things will always change, we will always looks back with nostalgia. Perhaps if we become better at enjoying the moments it won’t quite as bittersweet.

    Great post as always Becca!

  10. There is no substitute for life experience.

  11. Oh, my gosh, I was just thinking that today. You said it perfectly…

    Found you through mom 101. Glad I clicked over.

  12. Ahem…as someone who also has a “staring problem”… 🙂 Beautiful post.

    I loved high school. Almost all of it. Maybe, like Kristen, that’s why I chose to teach at that level. And boy, do I remember what happened to the kids when Spring arrived. Talk about electricity in the air!

    Thanks for taking me back there for a moment.

  13. My high school days weren’t really care free. Yet, I appreciate that age. So much opportunity, so much life to live, so many roads to take. It is a blessed time.

  14. ShannonL

    I often watch (or stare at!) teenagers and think back to my own days of high school… there were some things I did that I wish I hadn’t (sorry Mom!). And there was also the school dances and boys and bike riding and cheerleading… it was fun. Mostly.

    I look at my son who is turning into a teenager so quickly (he’s 12) and also at my five-year-old daughter who already has drama queen moments and I wonder what type of teens they will be. Will they live in the moment? Be popular? Sporty? Responsible? So much to think about! Thanks for a great post! 🙂

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