Last week Wednesday, my baby girl graduated from my high school. My alma mater. I know what you're thinking: But Mary Pat, you're a Boy Mom! Yes, yes. I am indeed. But before that, I was something else. Something I never stopped being.
A fairy godmother, of course.
When my sister had her first baby, I fell in love with a tiny redheaded bundle. She grew into a human who lives up to the fire that grows from her head, and she means as much to me as my own children. I have been a part of her life from the day she was born and every day since. I'm actually a little offended because mothers of graduates who are alumnae were invited onto the stage during the handing out of diplomas, and no one told me.
"You're not her mother," they all said.
Speechless. I was speechless.
But still, she is my girl. And seeing her graduate from my school brought back so many memories, especially of my senior year. How was I so lucky that I loved that year of my life? I often hear people groan over memories of high school, but somehow, through a stroke of luck or fate, I ended up with the perfect friends for me. And when I think back on that summer after we graduated, I remember sunsets and dusk light turning the trees gold. Thunderstorms. I remember backyard fires and elbow tag (it's a Mercy Girl thing) and just...being together.
I may not be Olivia's mom, but I don't doubt I am a special part of her life. A fairy godmother gives gifts and blessings and, well, magic. So for Liv and her friends on the night of her graduation party, I compiled and shared with them this bucket list for their summer of senior year. Based on my best memories and the things that have stayed in my heart and become a part of my identity, I gave them this:
Mary Pat's Summer To-Do List:
1. Do something unusual and fun together at least once a week. Rollerskate. LaserTron. Go-karting. Beach bonfires. Those kinds of things.
2. Practice making strangers smile. Out of joy. When you pull up next to someone at a traffic light, for example, give them a hearty thumbs up. Wave. Blow a kiss. Dance in the car. Don't be obnoxious. Never be rude--it's not worth it. Making people happy as much as you can when they don't expect it is MAGIC. And, like, blow a kiss at an old man who looks lonely (but not in a perverted way).
3. For the love of God, DANCE. Find as many opportunities to dance as you can. And most importantly...DANCE IN THE POURING RAIN. No shoes. In puddles. Hair soaked. Blare a song, and DANCE.
4. When you are out in public, make conversation with people you don't know. Start small. The cashier at Wegmans. Then go big. Someone in line at Target. Then bigger: a guy at the go-kart place. Ask people about themselves. They love that. Ask them their backstory. Ask them their dreams. Literally, look at a stranger and say, "Excuse me, but what ARE your hopes and dreams?"
5. Kiss someone on the cheek. Just 'cause. (Make sure they don't seem like a rapist, of course.)
6. Get a dozen roses from Wegmans and go to Canalside or the mall. A big busy place. Walk around and hand a rose to people who inspire you or seem like they need cheering up. Tell them it's just to make them happy and to have a nice day.
7. Go kayaking. Two people to a boat. You can rent them at a bunch of places. There is no trust game like operating a kayak with another human.
8. Wear your prom dress to a backyard party. This one should be at the end of summer. Make sure you hang string lights, eat chocolate, and drink sparkling grape juice.
9. Run down the hill at Chestnut Ridge. Then sit on the swings and watch the sunset.
10. Do a walking ghost tour. Drive to Valvo's. Then to Lily Dale.
11. Write a letter...with pen and paper...to each friend. You all have to do it. And give them to each person on the day they leave for school. Seal them in envelopes. Write your memories and wishes for each other. And then when school is overwhelming, or big, or you are just homesick, you will have your friends right there with you. A blank page that is filled up by a person's words to you is...MAGIC.