I didn’t see it coming.

High school, that is. Of course, I knew my daughter was in eighth grade. It wasn’t like I was unaware, but somehow I didn’t expect high school to appear so suddenly on the horizon.

Granted, I was stunned to see her walk out on stage in the eighth grade play, looking poised and confident and lovely. As a narrator in Aladdin Jr., she not only had solo speaking lines, but several solo singing lines in the number Arabian Nights, as well as its numerous reprises. Yeah, I got a bit teary. That was my kid.

But this past Wednesday evening, I sat beside her in the high school auditorium for orientation, my mouth hanging open. I felt like I’d been slapped back 30 years. How long has it been since the words electives, credits, pre-requisites, tracking, AP exam have been important in my life? She seemed to get more out of the presentation than I did, nodding her head along the way. “Our teachers told us this,” she said. “Yes, that’s what my guidance counselor said. Uh huh, I’ve already got my teacher’s recommendation for Honors Biology.”

High school is the same – and oh, so different. Typing is now Keyboarding. Taking an elective in Microsoft Office is recommended, so you can learn how to make Word insert all your citations and compile your bibliography for you. It can do that?

Gabbey’s priority is to get into the graphic arts elective. I’m not even sure that existed way back-in-the-day – and if it did, it certainly didn’t involve any computers. (I started using computers in college. Think floppy discs and dot matrix printers.) She’s also debating taking Italian (which she really wants) or continuing with Spanish so that she can qualify for the AP Spanish test in her senior year and get college credit. And of course, she bemoans the fact that the creative writing elective isn’t open for freshmen, but she doesn’t plan on letting that hold her back from writing.

I am thrilled to see her so motivated. But I can’t help but wonder: What happened to THIS kid?