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South Lakes, Here He Comes!

My son is becoming a Seahawk.

My son was not accepted at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.  I have my suspicions that the admissions committee is extremely biased against students who neither take the entrance exam nor complete an application.

It's a shame that I will be unable to boast about Henry's qualifications for gaining entrance into such a prestigious school, including his fascination with the complex properties of pi.  Skip that.  I was actually thinking of pie.  Never mind.

My first-born child, master of the menu and fan of all things anime, will be a freshman at in the fall.  He will be under the direct guidance of and will have a wide array of academic choices available to him. Henry is about to become a Seahawk.

In addition, I fully anticipate that he will now take on all the positive qualities of an actual seahawk.  I want him to learn to eat more fish.  I want him to have sharp focus and excellent eyesight.  I want him to firmly grip all the things he desires.  He also has my permission to mate for life, but not for a very, very long time from now.

Henry is excited to go to high school.  It is his belief that all the friends he has been waiting a lifetime to make are waiting for him in the halls of his new school.  For his sake, I too hope that he meets a small crew of kids with an appreciation for O. Henry's fashion choices, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain's leadership at Gettysburg, and the resilience of zombies.  We would both probably settle for two out of three.

There is a delicate part of my heart that sincerely hopes that some incredible teacher will discover the wonderous treasures that my child has to offer.  A history teacher will notice my child's love of the subject.  A math teacher will guide Henry through geometry and suddenly the boy who struggles to maintain a "B" in algebra will learn how to navigate higher mathematics. 

Someone, and I would not be particular if it was a teacher, a custodian or the guy who delivers styrofoam trays to the cafeteria, will spark a love of literature in my son and he will care about Heathcliff and Catherine.  He will come to respect Sidney Carton for making such a selfless decision.  A Shakespeare quote in context would be too much to expect.

In actuality, what I really want for my strange and wonderful child is for high school to be okay.  I do not expect for each school day to be a festival of brilliance and escalating self-esteem.  I just don't want some other mother's son to teach my kid to create flame from flatulence and a lighter. 

It would be fantastic if he could just get through the next four years as a passionate student with an intact sense of self and a decent idea of what it means to be a good citizen.  Again, I'm willing to accept two out of three.

But it's not about me.  Henry will have some great experiences and, despite my wishes and magical thoughts, he will have some rotten ones.  The world has already made up its mind about me.  This is the part of the story when my children start to venture out and become their own people.

Henry has a long road ahead of him and I worry for him.  There are a lot of myths about seahawks.  There was an old belief that they are so mesmerizing that fish would see them and turn their bellies to the sky awaiting to be plucked from the water. 

In my high school fantasy, this is where my child quotes Coriolanus Act IV Scene 5, "I think he'll be to Rome/ As is the osprey to the fish, who takes it/ By sovereignty of nature."  In your fantasy, it may be where I am suddenly struck in the face by a skillet for being a pretentious git. 

I hope my son knows the limits of seahawk charm.  I hope he understands that he will indeed need to develop fishing skills if he wants to survive.  Nothing comes easy.

An ancient Roman (Pliny the Elder since you asked) once wrote that seahawk parents would test their young by forcing them to fly all the way up to the sun.  The punishment for failure was abandonment. 

Please help me let Henry know that he is allowed to fly as high as he has the strength to go, but that the sun will still be there tomorrow if he needs to take a little time before his next attempt. 

It's okay to take a little while in testing his wings.  So what if the fish at South Lakes put up a fight?  Who cares if his talons don't immediately work?  He will get there and, until then, he can always come back to the nest where I'll have The History Channel on and a bacon cheeseburger just waiting to be eaten. 

leslie sogandares May 18, 2011 at 02:08 AM
Love this one. But I'm saddened by the notion that you have already decided that my son and his affinity for flame and flatulence won't be a great match for Henry. Really, give him a chance!
Justine van Engen May 18, 2011 at 12:51 PM
Leslie, you convinced me. Zippos and bean burritos at my house this weekend?
Friends of the Reston Regional Library June 21, 2011 at 11:21 AM
My daughter went from a VERY SMALL private school atmosphere to SLHS, hoping to find some kids to be friends with who are "like" her. Fortunately, because SLHS is such a big pond, she has been able to do that. It hasn't always been easy, and it hasn't always been fun, but on her worst days, she has always experienced SOMEONE asking, "are you okay?" So relax -- there are lots of kids who already know him and will ask that on the day he needs it. And the teachers and admin at SLHS are great. They really do care about every seahawk.

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