I remember my first day of kindergarten I wore a red bow in my hair, black Mary Janes, and a pretty blue smocked dress embroidered with school buses. Waiting at the stop sign with my parents, my mom took hundreds of photos of Bus 3 and me. Little did I know that this would become a relentless 13-year tradition.

As the end of junior year approaches, I look towards my last-first-day-of-school and wonder what happened to smock dresses in adult sizes. My three sisters and I had an embroidered smock dress for every occasion: Cinderella parties, apple picking, Halloween, mistletoe for Christmas, summery watermelons, and Fourth of July flags.

Unfortunately, after years of collecting dresses, we never found a smocked dress fit for a 17-year-old, themed: “Senior Year.” Guess I can’t go on then, I’m not dressed for the occasion.

This is another school-related tradition of mine. Along with bus pictures, every year I insist that I’m not ready for the following grade. Naturally, once school begins, I’m completely prepared and ready to face new challenges. However, senior year is the exception. Yes, I am ready for the workload, college visits, applications, and eventually, choosing a school, but I am not ready to leave my childhood.

I remember the first time I watched High School Musical. The students were so big, so smart, and so talented. Between math decathlons, dramatic musicals, and action-packed basketball games, this movie set high expectations for my high school career. Now, I’m supposed to be Gabriella, or Sharpay. I’m supposed to know what I want. I’m supposed to be excited, but I think I’m just sad.

My eight- and 10-year-old sisters are so relatable to me. I just want to play and create. You can frequently find me interrupting them in the middle of a Barbie wedding and telling them, “You’re doing it wrong.” I then drop to the floor and play Barbies, or American Girl Dolls, or Playmobil. I’m still a little kid. I just want my doll-embroidered dress, Polly Pockets, and maybe a tea set.

In one month I become an adult, but I am still just as much the little emotional two-year-old, and dramatic five-year-old, and know-it-all eight-year-old, and fashionable 12-year-old, and stressed-16-year-old. I do not know if I am the “adulting” 18-year-old, and honestly, that makes me a pretty scared-17-year-old.

So please, all I want for my senior year, is a Barbie. Maybe a new bike. And if you find one in my size, I’d really appreciate a smocked dress with the college of my choice embroidered on the front. I just need to hold on a little longer...

Madeline Pennino is a senior at Wilton High School. She shares this column with three classmates.