Off to high school: Family says: Bye, big brother

Geri Nikolai

Terry Lynch, a stay-at-home mother of five, believes that a big change in one child’s life means change for everyone else.

When her oldest, 14-year-old David, goes off to high school this fall, and her youngest, 3-year-old Michael, starts preschool, she’ll have a few hours to herself for the first time in 10 years.

For at least a few days, she’ll spend it wondering how everyone is coping. Her thoughts will be about Michael at preschool, Tommy, Annie and Matthew at Spectrum without big brother David around and, most of all, how David is doing at Boylan High.

Lynch knows life will be different, especially for 11-year-old Tommy.

“He was sitting next to me at the school’s graduation party, and he had tears in his eyes. He said, ‘I’m gonna miss David,’ ” Lynch said.

David’s presence at Spectrum meant a lot to the three middle children and to Terry. When Tommy was hassled by an older kid, it was David who took care of it and shared the incident with Mom so she and husband Richard could help Tommy deal with it himself. If the younger children had something heavy to carry, they turned to David. Big brother was never far away.

Lynch remembers crying the first day she took David to preschool. He’s the oldest, and as he sails into uncharted waters, he moves toward independence first.

At Boylan, which has seven times as many students as Spectrum, David will be in a world where parents, for the most part, don’t intrude.

“In grade school, you’re much more involved in the school portion of your children’s lives,” Lynch said. “David has always liked to sit at the kitchen table doing homework, so he’d know what was going on with the family.

“I know that won’t work for high school homework. But I don’t want to lose him to homework for four years, either. I’ll have to find a new way of pumping him for info.”

Lynch is not worried about David or about Boylan.

“I went to a huge high school. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. There are so many things available to students,” she said.

“But I know how quickly the next four years are going to go. I know he’s ready to do this. I’m very proud of him.

“I’m very sad, too.”

David will make new friends, away from her and his admiring younger brother Tommy. It’s not that she doesn’t trust his choices, Lynch said, but it’s never easy when things change.

She and Tommy and the rest of the family will adjust, Lynch added. One of these years, she’ll even return to the working world. Someone’s got to help pay college costs, not only for David but for his four younger siblings, who will all follow David out into the world.

“You can’t stop it from happening,” she said.