What a difference 10 years makes! From toddler to teen in (what feels like) a heartbeat.

This week, along with a lot of other kids doing one thing or another, my daughter is taking a class at the High School. In a few weeks (!) she and her twin sister will actually be high schoolers. It’s really hard to believe.

I turned on our TV yesterday, and it was already somehow “tuned” to our family photos. (We have apple TV) The featured date was July 5 2009, and there was a tiny girl with big eyes and the cutest little bob haircut ever! THAT’s the girl living in my house, right?

In the here and now, my daughter walked up and I was jolted back into reality — a tall, slender young woman who somehow has a completely different yet also impossibly enviable head of hair. She’s much more grown up than 10 years ago, but is she really going to high school?

On the video, attention then focused on another impossibly cute four-year-old, her twin sister, swaddled in a life jacket and with some super short bangs courtesy of her sister. This, as I recall, was the year that they found a loophole in my “Don’t cut your own bangs!” directive by cutting each other’s bangs. The video must have been between shearings. By August 11, when I videoed them playing something called “army training” with their big brother, wherein each kid has some kind of very tiny toy doing calisthenics and driving barbie’s jeep around, they both have what can only be described as painful haircuts. Class pictures were not as Ralph Lauren Perfect as I had imagined they would be when I picked out coordinating shirt dresses for them . . .

So now, somehow, those little kids are going to high school. It feels really big especially because I’ve been through this before with their two older siblings. Somehow, they finish 8th grade and it seems like the right time to move on from middle school, ready for more freedom and responsibility. And then three months later, you drop them off at the high school ready for a similar steady increase in maturity or something like it.

But bam, October comes and they’re friends with bearded kids who are upperclassmen. You arrive at the school behind a police car with flashing lights and are told by your sweet 14 year old that someone was selling pot in the bathroom (I have no idea if that’s what was happening, so don’t quote me on that.) Daily makeup is worn that is more elaborate than what you would wear to a formal event. It feels like a big cliff that we all run over. Maybe they’re like the roadrunner, but I feel like the coyote, five steps into a bottomless drop, unaware until it’s too late.

I can also take some comfort because I am a seasoned mom. I know that the cliff is a survivable fall. That things do level out a bit (but get ready for a no holds barred sex-ed class in 10th grade where they finally find out more about those STDs they had to present in 7th grade.)

I laughed at that lifejacket I had my four-year-old in even though the water was only up to her waist and I was watching very carefully and she knew how to swim. In those days, I wasn’t even willing to take a small risk, even with her brother, who was 6 and floats into the video a little later. (And probably her big sister, who was 8 and likely embarrassed to be photographed in a life jacket at that age.)

But now, there are no lifejackets for what they will be risking in high school. And I’m willing to let them make their own decisions, even though it terrifies me. After all, the next phase is college and real life, so it’s time to get ready to let go. I would take four year old problems for 14 year old ones in a heartbeat. But I’m also excited for what is about to open up to them now that they are older, with more challenging classes, new communities to connect with and just plain old teenage fun. Just not too much fun . . . .

This is the amount of fun, and also the distance (at least) I’ll have to get used to.

This is the amount of fun, and also the distance (at least) I’ll have to get used to.