What Happens in High School…Driving and Crying (and Aging)

In the state of New Jersey, children have to be 5 years old to enter Kindergarten. The cut-off date is in the fall and it varies, but generally, the kid has to be 5 by December 31st at the latest to start Kindergarten in a given year. If you extrapolate that out over time, you realize that by December 31st of his or her senior year of high school, all students have reached the age of 17. Which happens to be the age one can get a driver’s license in New Jersey.

All of this is true for most kids. But not for the super-nerdy! If you’re super-nerdy (like me), you may have skipped the fourth grade.  And you may have a June birthday that happens to fall after the school year ends. And that throws everything off.

If you’re super-nerdy (like me), you may have been the reason that your eighth grade wasn’t allowed to watch that PG-13 movie at the end of the year — because you were still 12.

And if you’re super-nerdy (like me), you may have had the distinction of being the only graduating senior who needed a ride to graduation because you hadn’t turned 17 yet.

This seems like it would totally not be a big deal, right? Except, if you think about it, there is no milestone greater in high school than getting that driver’s license. Add to that some mortifying extras:

  • Most of the classes I’d taken that had mixed grades meant I was in with kids older than me (because I was, you know, so advanced) — until driver’s ed. Where senior me got to be with juniors.
  • I’d pretty much raced to success at everything in high school faster than at least 95% of my peers — except this.
  • I got my driver’s license on my 17th birthday — which was a good few days after graduation. Meaning I did not get to show off my new license at school.

I won’t lie. In the realm of totally cool things about high school, being the youngest one was really not one of them.

But…there’s always a silver lining to being nerdy. Really. And in this case, like many of the other ones, it just gets silverier (is that a word?) with time.

You see, I turned 17 after all of my high school classmates, sometimes over a year after. But that also means when all my former classmates are stressing over turning 40….

I’ll only be 39.

Trust me, Nerdy Chicks, that is totally worth it.

2 comments on “What Happens in High School…Driving and Crying (and Aging)

  1. I’m on the flip side here – when I got to college, my first year roommate was also named Cathy/Kathy. That’s where the similarity ended. She is about 6 inches shorter, and also 14 months younger. She became known as Little Kathy and I was Big Cathy – loathsome nicknames! Fortunately we found lots of common ground and are still very good friends, but it is weird how birthdates and school cutoff dates conspire to group young people around various arbitrary milestones.

  2. MaryZ says:

    Being a December baby, I started kindergarten before 5. But we then moved to a town with a fall cutoff, so I was the youngest all the way through to graduation. I held up academically, but I always felt way behind socially. I’ve wondered how life could have been different because of a cutoff date. I did get my Jersey license senior year, but wasn’t allowed to drink 3.2 beer at Ohio University (not much of a loss).

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