I sat in the pews with the other parents and watched as my teenager stepped forward at the 8th Grade Mentor Ceremony during a recent Silent Meeting. As she lit a candle in honor of her final weeks of her Friends School education, a wave of realization crashed over me. It was as if I had had my back turned to the surf, even when I knew I had been staring at it intently all along.
How could she have jettisoned through nine years in the blink of an eye? It was just a split-second ago when she first experienced The Friends School of Atlanta during a visit day. At the ripe old age of 4, she was wearing the tiny clothes I picked out for her that morning, with her hair—still too short and thin to form a single ponytail—pulled back in six different piglet tails sprouting out at all angles of her head like a little strawberry blonde blowfish. When I picked her up after the visit, she couldn’t WAIT to go back. WHEN COULD SHE GO BACK?!?! DID SHE REALLY HAVE TO WAIT ALLLLL SUMMMMMMERRRRR???
The earliest years—with her teeny-tiny classmates holding hands with their big eighth-grade buddies and sitting in laps during Silent Meeting, the line of booster seats waiting like little soldiers near the front door on field trip days, losing teeth in lunch foods, rest periods and head lice and playdates—careened into the now—with lanky, sullen, grown-up-not-grown-up classmates now holding hands with their little Pre-K buddies and offering them laps during Silent Meeting, the line of trail hikers proceeding at individuated paces up the 5-mile trail on the ultimate overnight class field trip, losing patience with adults and all gangly limbs akimbo, school exploratories and acne and group texts.
I have watched intently as my baby blowfish has swum through a sea of SPICES and exploded into becoming a protest-marching, creative-writing, book-toting, animal-rescuing, underserved-representing, K-pop-extolling, still-loves-her-mother-acting young woman, and I am so very grateful to FSA for shepherding us both at all points between the then and the now, for always holding us in a warm Friends’ embrace, and for being the village that it takes to raise a child.
By Sarah Rosenberg