Fifteen means a lot of things, most of which are deep and heavy and fraught with emotion and drama and angst and did I forget to mention the drama?
Mackenzie is 15. This year, Mackenzie did something so incredibly difficult, so overwhelming to many people - she started her first year of Opera training at performing arts school. Close to ninety auditioned for eight spots, and she was accepted - with no formal voice training. None.
After all, it's not enough that, at 15, she moved from the safety and sanctity of a smaller elementary school (my kids attend a pre k-8 private Catholic school) to a much larger, often overwhelming, public high school - let's throw a second school into the equation. Let's add an additional half day of instruction in things like sight reading, music theory, music history, chorus, private vocal lessons, etc - and let's have the child go to school in the dark and get home in the dark. In addition to a gifted class load and AP classes and the general sturm und drang of high school, just for kicks let's add in weekly rehearsals, tech week, performances and
who am I kidding? She loved every minute of it.
More importantly, I've seen a growth and a maturity, not just in her voice - holy cow, she sang for the funeral and even though she sang through tears and emotion, the depth of her voice was astounding! - but in her carriage and poise.
I've worried about a lot with this kid. Stage work is unlike any other, there's a sense of urgency and immediacy felt in few other careers. The death to self and callous disregard for feelings and emotions - well, that can be a tough row to hoe. She has asthma and oral and seasonal allergies which can feel imsurmountable at times. Luckily, though, I haven't ever faced anything more severe than a broken leg and a ripped out fingernail for her. We've been blessed with a healthy daughter - healthy enough to be able to go out there and try to make her mark on the world.
Way back when I was beginning my mothering career, I was conflicted about vaccinations. Like many of us do, I turned to my own mother for advice. She grew up poor in the Ozark mountain country, and saw things in her life that I have never seen. Her mother and her aunts and uncles had smallpox as children, and they were quarantined. They went out at at night to get things done because they "had" to do it....my mother signed her grandmother's name on the permission slip to get the smallpox injection because, as she said, "No way I wanted that!" She grew up with a girl who had polio and wore leg braces. My mom had both German and 3 day measles, whooping cough and mumps, so she was always adamant that her children were going to be vaccinated.
And then my mom became a nurse, and her education included time at a TB hospital.The things that she saw, the patients she cared for - they all shaped who my mom became, the decisions she made and the education she extended to me. Vaccination was as important as water to her, which explains why we've had this experience time and again:
(Ten year olds still need their bear. Fifteen year olds don't really care.)
Fifteen is a not quite adult but no longer a child. Fifteen faces a growing social and societal awareness, a fierce need for independence and a desire to be babied, a love of self and family and a burning quest for independence. Fifteen is a dichotomy of separation and attachment, love and hate, war and peace.
Fifteen has been a blast and an education and a thrill a minute. I can't wait to see what the next years bring. I'm thrilled to be able to get to know this incredibly diverse, intelligent and independent human being.
During Shot@Life’s Blogust, 31 bloggers, one each day in August, are writing about moments that matter. For every comment on this post and the 30 other posts, Walgreens will donate a vaccine (up to 50,000 vaccines). A child dies every 20 seconds from a vaccine-preventable disease. We can change this reality and help save kids’ lives!