The other night I went to an art show at the high school where my daughter had a couple of photos exhibiting. Top left and bottom right are two of them...
She is quite the photographer.
I couldn't really appreciate the show because I had become distracted by all the senior posters I saw lining the walls on the way to the gym. Moms put together photos and other memorabilia of their graduating children on posterboards to commemorate their school lives. My son, as you know, is a senior. His mother did not participate in this practice. When I asked him if he wanted one of those posters he clearly expressed his desire not to have one. I obliged just like I obliged when he said he didn't want to go to homecoming, or the prom, or apply for any scholarships, or join any sports teams, or any after school clubs.
As I viewed the posters, recognizing so many of his classmates from elementary school, I felt tears begin to well up in my eyes. There were scores of homages -- their mothers put a lot of effort, time and money into honoring their children. I did nothing. I felt terrible. I felt like a bad mother. My daughter saw I was upset and kept asking what's the matter. I tried to hide it but couldn't. When I told her she laughed and said, "He didn't want one!" I know, but what if I wanted one? Maybe I wanted to look through old photos and reminisce. Maybe if I had gotten it out of my system making the collage I wouldn't be so weepy now.
I was always so involved in their early years at school -- volunteering, class mom, team mom, chess coach, newspaper editor, various PTA positions, etc. As they got older they required less and less of my time. By high school I felt my presence was no longer wanted/needed so I just faded back. Now it's hitting home that my little boy is graduating high school. Senior year is supposed to be such a whirlwind of activity. For my son, it wasn't. He doesn't seem to care, but I feel like I missed out. I have no pictures of him at homecoming and the prom since he didn't want to go to either. He didn't even want to buy his senior pictures so I didn't. There's no invitations or announcements for his graduation. Who would come anyway? The only person who would have made the trip, my father, is dead. My husband's mother doesn't even acknowledge my son. The rest of the family has banned me because of the memoir I'm writing. We're all he's got. We'll celebrate, but there'll be no wild party, he doesn't want one. We'll celebrate the way his life is, low key.
That same evening in the auditorium of the school there was another celebration for the seniors, an award ceremony. My son didn't go. He was working, but he wasn't even invited as he wasn't getting any award. They don't give out awards for being just a good kid. He pretty much went through his entire school career under the radar. In elementary school he was a chess champion but that's about his only claim to fame. He was an A/B student who never got into trouble. He always scored advanced on any SOL test, sometimes perfect scores. He scored the highest in his school on the PSAT and well on his SAT, has a 3.5 GPA and he's still not in the top 10%. He was the recipient of "is a pleasure to teach" and "works well with others" comments on his report cards. He was never part of the "in crowd." He never got invited to all the "cool parties." He was never suspended, or had detention, or arrested, or involved with drugging and drinking as some of those very same smiling faces on the exquisitely designed posters had been.
My son never sought to be popular. He has always been to himself, comfortable with a small circle of friends, instead of a sea of many acquaintances. He's so low-key that in the yearbook he received yesterday, where parents spent hundreds of dollars taking out ads congratulating their child -- no, not me, spending $70 on the yearbook was steep enough -- all that's listed under his photo is his name. He's so far under the radar that in the yearbook in the one other "shot" of him he's misidentified. Above a quote of his, there is a picture of an unknown black kid bearing my son's name. He doesn't even know who the kid is. Someone else might have freaked out at the error, but not my son. All he said is, "That's typical of Hidden Valley. Maybe I'll put it on Facebook." Nah, he doesn't care, but me, I feel like I missed out again...