Her bedroom door is closed, but I can hear every word she's belting out. "Good morning Baltimoooore!" she sings. My bias is as certain as the rotation of the earth, but I believe wholeheartedly in her talent. I never get tired of hearing my daughter's voice. Now she's moved on to another show tune. "Come on, babe, why don't we paint the town . . . "
She's trying out for the musical Chicago at school in a couple of weeks. She's hoping for a lead role, of course, but I've reminded her that the more mature roles may go to upperclassmen. But secretly I believe she can do anything.
Our love of Broadway is one of our shared interests. We're going to Hamilton next weekend. We're unsure of how we'll keep ourselves from singing along, but we're beyond excited. Music is always a connector for us. She tolerates my old-school music and has memorized the lyrics for hundreds of New Wave songs. My heart swells with a weird sort of pride when she matches me note for note on some ancient New Order song. Popular music gets some action, too. We have Lizzo singalongs on the way to church. "You tried to break my heart? Oh, that breaks my heart." She pretends not to know the bad words.
Freshman year has started off with a bang. She got into the fall play right off the bat, so those rehearsals were added to the show choir rehearsals. Often, they are back to back. She leaves to catch the bus at 6:40 a.m. and frequently isn't home again until after 8:30 p.m. Her grades have been surprisingly good - perhaps my warnings about the GPA clock ticking as soon as she walked through the school doors paid off.
Homecoming came and went a couple weeks ago. I took her to Macy's for a dress. She and her friends looked so cute together. I love how kids just go the dance in groups. When I was in school, you had to wait to be asked. If you weren't asked, you didn't go. It's just the way it was. For her big night, I took lots of photos and tried not to cry. I let her wear my grandmother's diamond heart pendant.
I've encouraged her to keep her grades up over the next four years, but also to have fun. I want her to look back on her high school years and feel like she really sucked the marrow out of the whole experience. I've joined the music parents' association at school so that I can do my best to support the music/theater programs. Does that make me a stage mom?
Despite the excitement of all the changes that come with freshman year, I can't help but feel like this is also the start of a long, slow good-bye of sorts. I have just four years left with my songbird and then . . . off to college she goes. It feels like that day is coming much too soon. The day she was born, one of the first things I did was to figure out her high school graduation year. 2023! At the time, it felt like some crazy way-in-the-future date. Like the Jetsons. Would I have a jetpack by then? A flying car? Now it's just a few years away.
But this is my job, right? Preparing her for independence? Sometimes I worry that she doesn't need me anymore. But then I find her shampoo in the refrigerator and remember that we still have some ground to cover.
"Come on, babe, we're gonna brush the sky . . . " And all that jazz!