I forget how to do this, so you folks are just going to have to put up with some straight reportage until it all comes rushing back like so much tequila vomit onto the bus seat bench in a 90's Temple Bar dive named The Garage.
Riker went to Bigger School. All in green, shoulders bowed by with the weight of a million dollars worth of books, looking for all the world like the young woman that she has so suddenly become. 'Yes!' I howled, internally. 'Be bowed! Bow some more! I could have bought a fucking iPad with that cash!'. I will skip lightly past the cost of these books, of that uniform, of those 'voluntary' contributions, lest I weep all over my barely functioning Dell.
I was scared as she walked away. Scared to fuck. Logic loudly dictated that there was little to fear in relation to my Riker. But logic could talk as slowly and shoutily as it liked, I was taking none of that shit down. Because I remember still. My first day in secondary. The giddy excitement of what might have been another chance. The dreadful stench of desperation oozing from my pores. That giddiness leading to babbling, jibbering, gabbling, to inappropriate guffawing. Shut up, I tell myself as I keep talking, fidgeting, being excitedly excitable. And then, barely four hours later, I'm back to where I began, ostracized by the cool kids with whom I inexplicably want to be in, doomed to six more years of hanging out with the stupid, the fat, the fawning. And fitting right the fuck in.
None of this for Riker, who, while thankfully not a cool kid, bears little resemblance to the fucked up ball of fled father inspired insecurity from the above paragraph. She came home happy, if exhausted, and full of cheery chat. If she got the crap wedgied out of her literally or emotionally, she hid it well. And as the week progressed it became clear that this was not merely Riker at her Epictetian best. Despite the long walk, the longer day, the heavy bag, she is genuinely enjoying the new challenges and experiences offered by second level education. The big freak.
It's unlikely to be all plain sailing. And my relief at never having to set foot in a similar environment myself is tempered by the knowledge that I will be living each inevitable trauma through my brilliant daughter without even the semblance of control that I felt I had at her age. But best to think of it as some low-intensity training for the moment that her younger sibling makes the same crossover. Because there be some scary shit.