It all started out so innocently; just a boy and his mum shooting the breeze.
"Wanna hear something cool?" said he.
"Always," I responded candidly.
"Next Friday I'm going to be getting my high school schedule," he grinned.
High school schedule the phrase vibrated violently back and forth from one side of my brain to the other like the main chime on Big Ben just after the last strike at midnight.
BONG! HIGH SCHOOL. BONG!
Suddenly, I heard Perry Como's voice crooning sweetly in my mind, "Is this the little boy at play when did he grow to be so tall? Wasn't it yesterday that [they were] small?"
And as I choked on the "Sunrise, Sunset" lyrics slowly revolving around and around on the nostalgic turntable in my noggin, Kyle was fast-forwarding with an output of about a thousand thoughts per second.
"It's gonna be so cool I tested into advance math and English and history I wonder who'll be in my classes It will be awesome I hope I make swim team practices will be intense and homework will be mammoth I'm so nervous but like, in a good way Mom, are you listening to me? Mom, Mom, MOM!"
"Yes, yes, high school, some of the best times of all!" I said, trying to sound encouraging and enthusiastic and excited and all those other positive "e" words.
And, as he bebopped around on a rush of approaching maturity and beaming pride and eager anticipation, I smiled. The widest, broadest, fakest, most insincere smile in the history of smile-dom.
"Whatsa matter, Ma? You OK?" he asked.
Sure, yes, naturally, of course, super fine - why do you ask?
Just because my baby is soon going to be leaving for school before sunrise, brushing shoulders with 18-year-olds, meeting with guidance counselors to plan - yikes - college tracks and you know, talking to girls.
What happened next was inevitable.
"And just think, in about a year, I'll be studying for my driver's exam "
What? I'm sorry, what was I saying before I breathed just a little too deeply into that paper bag? Oh, ugh, driver's license speak. That was it. I went into full tailspin mode. I was careening out of control, skidding on an icy patch of panic. Funny, I never knew you could have nausea, chills, a migraine, heart palpitations and cold sweats simultaneously upon the utterance of two little words.
My oldest, dearest friend from childhood (we've literally been friends for 40-and-a-half years), Michelle, shares my despair. Currently, she is planning her son's (my godson, BTW) graduation party. In between crying spells, she keeps sending me pictures of our children as toddlers. We look at them and weep profoundly together.
Yes, Michelle and I are going down a lot faster than the Titanic these days. Our mothers' hearts all at once proud and splintering into four billion tiny pieces.
On almost the same dark day of Kyle's high school schedule proclamation, two of my work pals signed up their children for kindergarten. Against my better judgment, I looked at them and said simply, "Don't blink or it'll be high school."
If they had an "unfriend" button for real life, I think they'd have both deleted me right then and there.
Oh well, I guess it's really a good thing - my boy is growing up and thriving and flourishing and learning and excelling.
But, just for Mommy, couldn't he have the decency to do it over the course of about the next 20 years or so? I mean, it was just last week that I left him at preschool for the first time, after all.
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist and terrified mom of a soon-to-be high schooler. Send her cheerful thoughts (and smelling salts!) at firstname.lastname@example.org