Eldest is a good kid. He's 14, but has yet to start to hate everything I do and everything I say and everything I am. He gets excellent grades. In the past couple of months, I've noticed he's become more solicitous, offering on his own to help me with tasks, particularly those of the physical kind. In the past few weeks or so, he's made a point of spending time with us. In a most amazing turnaround, he even shows far more restraint with Youngest than he's been able to muster in years.
[Isn't it funny how I have seemingly forgotten how horrible I found being around my own siblings during my childhood? It's as if I've never experienced firsthand sibling rivalry. Or sibling hatred, for that matter. You mean all the fighting and tattling and disdain and competing for parental attention, if not outright affection, wasn't just a fluke among my siblings? Go figure.]
I was talking to a friend the other day. He has two older kids. The youngest is probably a junior in high school now. He was telling me how horrible high school can be, how his son was a well adjusted and trustworthy sort with good grades. Until high school. A smart kid, his decline went unnoticed until it could go unnoticed no more with the issuance of report cards and the discovery of numerous drug-related texts on his phone.
His kid is much better now, having been yanked from the high school and now on independent study. It is a good high school, as good, if not better, than the one my kids will attend. But, in my friend's eye, its infrastructure is, in good measure, to blame for his son's predicament. And, according to my friend, high school there or high school here or high school anywhere is the same.
I had best be prepared for it to suck in first Eldest, and then Daughter, and, far down the road, Youngest as well.
He must have thought about what he'd said to me after we'd hung up because not long after he sent an email telling me he didn't mean to say it must be that way and advising me to just keep the kids close to me as they go through high school.
Several days later, another friend was over at the house, telling Pete and me about the kid dealing drugs at another middle school. She was puzzled about where kids would get the drugs, about what tenements they must be visiting to score, and about what type of people the kid must know to get access to the dope.
I laughed, of course, knowing how easy I had it finding drugs in middle school and high school. It was so easy, and I have to believe it hasn't gotten any more difficult. But how could she not know that it is that easy? And how many parents don't know it's that easy? And, of God, it's going to be that easy for my kids.