Friday, October 31, 2014

Kitten Heels and Football Fields

(post copyright 2014, Dawn Weber)

Do not cry . . . do not trip . . . do not cry . . . do not trip . . .

That's what I'm thinking, here at the edge of the high school football field with my daughter, husband, and the other fall athletes, band-members and parents. We're getting ready to walk to the 50-yard-line, our names announced as honorees for Senior Night.

I've watched this spectacle many times, but never thought it would be here so soon for us - it seemed light years, millenniums into the future. Even the date sounded far away. I mean, 2014. That is some space-age shit right there. Where's my hover-car?

The line moves, and I toddle forward with the group on one-inch kitten heels, trying to remain upright and heartily regretting my footwear choice. I wore these shoes specifically for the traditional senior night photo, hoping to look taller and thinner, though I know I won't - God did not make me tall and thin. But I never let reality stop me. No sir. 

The unfortunate shoes have one bonus: They help distract from the pressure building behind my eyes. Nothing new, I'm always blinking back waterworks lately, because the knowledge that our kid will soon leave for college is forever in the back of my mind. Oh, how I used to snicker at the weepy moms, bemoaning senior year and graduation. But karma, as they say, is a bitch. A bitch who slaps. 

A bitch who slaps hard.

My daughter's voice pulls me back to the sidelines.  "Are you going to cry?" she asks, her face horrified. "God, Mom. Do not cry."

"I'm not crying! My feet hurt, that's all."

"Well don't cry!" she hisses. "I mean, jeez!"

We step to the photographer's station in the end zone, and I put on my best smile. The one that says I'm not crying dammit!

Even in its early stage, this senior year thing has been a frazzled whirlwind of photos, college visits, applications and meetings, along with the usual cheerleading and school functions, and as I recently told my friend Wise Marj, I don't dare forget or overlook even one event.

"We are so busy lately, with the senior stuff," I said. "And I feel like I can't miss anything."

Marj, whose youngest child graduated last year, gave me her smug grin. This grin normally comes when she relays the many symptoms of old age and menopause I'll soon experience. But she took a break from her usual message of doom to be even more depressing. 

"Yep. That's 'The Lasts,'" she said. 

Sometimes, Wise Marj can be Vague Marj. 

"What are you talking about?"

"It's the last homecoming, the last football game, the last prom - all of it," she said. "And you go to everything because it's the last time it will happen. Ever."

Yeah. Thanks a lot, Wise Marj.

“Welcome to the 2014 Sheridan Generals Senior Night . . .”

The loudspeaker blares with each family's introduction, and we head further into the end zone as the groups make their way onto the turf. Some of the couples are married, some aren't anymore, but everyone is here tonight, walking three-by-three in the red stadium surrounded by acres and acres of farmers' crops.  Rivals call our students "Children of the Corn," but the kids don't have any problem with it, cheerfully posing for yearbook pictures with giant International Harvesters and corn stalks.

I stare into the brown fields and blue sky, trying not to do anything embarrassing for my daughter, such as breathing, but she fusses with her uniform, giving me an excuse to sneak a sideways glance. Fair skin, brown eyes, tiny stature - to see her is to see me, albeit a younger, smoother, better me, and definitely a smarter model, as she takes classes like "Advanced Calculus." I'm not even sure what "Advanced Calculus" is. It sounds suspiciously like "Really Hard Math."

But the whiz-kid by my side is only one version of her, and there were many over the years, though I don't recall them all. All I can seem to remember are snippets of baby talk, screen-shots of days, and a chattering blur in little pink clothes.

Back then, old women - complete strangers - would coo at my daughter as we pushed past them in the grocery store aisles. "The years fly by!" they said, bent with age over their carts of coupons and wheat bread. "It goes so fast - enjoy it!" And I smiled and nodded and disregarded them, in a hurry to get the baby home for a nap, so I could have some time alone.

They were right, of course. It flew. There was so much to do, always, and the years went by like grocery bags in the wind, like the old women themselves: barely noticeable, and gone when I looked again. 

And faster than I could say "financial aid," I'm on a football field wearing regrettable shoes, looking for my hover-car and wondering how to let go.

"Mom - it's time."

"And next we have Laura Weber, escorted by her parents . . . "

Do not cry . . . do not trip . . . do not cry . . . do not trip . . . do not cry . . . do not trip . . .

Do not blink.


I'll miss all the children of the corn next year
but particularly the tiny one at the harvester's top left.


  1. If you are lucky they will always be the new and improved version of you. and you do look taller!

  2. Do not blink.


    I, too, remember the old amen smiling at The Boy, telling me how quickly the time would fly, and I remember thinking, Yeah, this kid will never feed himself...

    He's getting married next summer to a smart, gorgeous woman. I'm hoping I've learned enough over the years to relax and enjoy grandchildren. :-)

    Lovely post.


  3. Fantastic photo of the three of you, Dawn. I can't imagine the mixed emotions and what it would take for me NOT to cry - ESPECIALLY in heels. Congratulations (on making it in heels and smiling for the photo).

  4. I absolutely love that photo!! Happy Halloween Dawn :)

  5. Awww what a poignant, yet amusing, post. Several of my friends are experiencing the 'lasts' and empty nests as their kids are in college this fall for the first time. Time does fly.

  6. If I were wearing those shoes I would have cried like a baby.

  7. Great photo! Senior year is bittersweet for students and parents alike. At least that's been my experience.

  8. Sweaty eyeballs are a cow aren't they?
    Loved that photo. And this post.

  9. What a great title. The photo is beautiful. Yes, you are in the year of lasts, but it's followed by many years of firsts. When we took Favorite Young Man to college, I got as far as the gas station two blocks from our house before I started crying.


  10. And one of the other blurs in that photo is my precious child, who became a senior along with yours while I blinked. She is also causing me to spin in circles with senior projects, college and scholarship apps, and "lasts". I actually didn't cry on senior night--I was fine. Now, however, thanks to this blog, I am crying. Thanks a lot my friend! And know that I am right here with you.

    BTW, I have some really cute pics of the girls when they were 11 and Laura was one of Amy's first friends after we moved here and they all came over for her birthday. Sometime next year, when they are both away at school, come on over. We can open a bottle or two of wine and reminisce about how crazy we were--and try not to think about the fact that we each only have one more child to go before we are done with the "lasts".

  11. Ray - You're right, Ray, about the lucky part, anyway.
    Pearl - I bet they were the same old women, Pearl! Traveling all the grocery stores of the Midwest to tell frazzled young moms how time flies.
    Robyn - Thanks! Yeah, that's my "I'm not crying, dammit!" smile.
    Optimist - Thanks, friend, and the very same to you!
    Janie - I'm with you. I've never been an overly sentimental or mushy person, but I'll tell you this is HARD.
    JoJo - I struggled for weeks whether to even post this, as I knew it was on the serious/sentimental side. Finally, I said "F*ck it, this is how I feel and I'm putting it out there."
    Jono - I'd pay good money to see you in kitten heels
    Carol - You speak the truth.
    Elephant - A cow indeed! :)
    Kristen - I thought of your daughter the whole time I was writing this, along with all the other kids. Watching them all grow up and play their sports has been wonderful, and very bittersweet. I'll be over for that bottle of whine, er, wine, my friend. ;)

  12. Sunrise, sunset, huh?
    Hovercars!? I'm waiting for the sex, yeah, where ARE those hovercars?

  13. I would have been bawling. You are a strong, strong woman! Fabulous piece as always.

  14. Just stopping by to wish you a wonderful weekend :)