You’d think in the 20 years it’s been since I walked the halls of high school that a lot has changed. Guess what? Nothing has changed. Sure, the students no longer wear flannel, birkenstocks, doc martins, and jean overalls….oh, wait, they DO wear those today. What is wrong with the world that the fashion from my high school days has made a come back? Jean overalls should never make a come back.
But really, not much has changed, especially with the way I felt in high school—just a girl, wandering around with low self-esteem. I’d like to think that after years of therapy and self-growth and increased confidence that I’d changed. But no! Put me in a high school setting and I’m just as awkward and nervous as I was from 1990-1994.
Last Wednesday was Maddie’ back to school night. I wasn’t able to attend last year’s BTS because Maddie had a soccer game, so I decided to go to this years. Actually, let me be honest: I wasn’t going to go but then a friend of mine who teaches at the high school basically told me that only parents who don’t love their children don’t go. Thus, I went. Because, you know, I love my kid and all.
The hour before it started I was already a mess. I tried on at least 4 different outfits before deciding on one that made me look “mom-ish” but with style.Why I even cared? Who knows?
The first part of BTS night was a large parent meeting in the gym. Back to the gym. The band was playing and we actually said the pledge of allegiance, which I haven’t said in so long, I didn’t remember the words. But the parents all around me did, so I faked it, mumbling under my breath. Then we all sat down and listened to the principal speak, and while I do think he’s a great principal, my God was I bored. He spoke in monotone the entire time. I have a feeling he didn’t want to be there either.
I sat by myself, watching other parents who knew each other talk and catch up, but I didn’t know anyone around me. I glanced around and saw a few people I knew but they were siting too far away for me to talk to. Again—just like high school. In high school I always felt so uncool and even though I had friends, I remember doing the same thing at assemblies–looking around, hoping for friend to sit next to.
And then I was lost among a sea of parents looking for their kids’ classes. It seemed everyone around me had thought to print out a map, but I guess I failed on thinking about that. But with my high deductive powers I found Maddie’s classrooms. OK, That’s not true at all. I just wandered around until I found an ASB student who could point me in the right direction. Oh, those ASB students. Not much has changed with them–always over-eager to spread their high school pride and knowledge.
One thing has changed though. High school is a lot more difficult now than when I attended. I sat in Maddie’s classes, always in the back hoping I didn’t get called on (for what? who knows?), and listened as Maddie’s teachers told us about the workload and their expectations. I swear to God, I was sweating at the thought of all the homework Maddie has to do. And the teachers kept talking about college and grades and I just felt completely over-whelmed. When I was in high school, it seemed like such an easy game. Do your homework, go to school, get a decent GPA, go to college. I never aimed for Harvard, but I got into every college I applied to. I know for a fact that there’s no way I would get into any college today based on my high school grades.
While sitting in the classrooms, I felt–again–like a lost young girl. Once again, all the parents seemed to know each other and I didn’t know anyone. OK, I knew a few parents, but still…it was like being the odd one out.
And here’s the real kicker: I have never felt more SINGLE than I did on BTS. Couples everywhere. Holding hands, asking questions, making plans to play bunco. Are there no single parents in the school? There probably are but I guess they don’t love their kids enough to make an appearance (really though, chances are they’re too busy or went the year before and are still scarred from the event). The only thing that made me feel better is the fact that I never, ever want to play bunco.
I went home more informed about what Maddie does for 8 hours a day but also feeling like such a loser. I kind of figured out the whole single thing. It seems like most parents who divorce do so when their kids are in elementary school and have thus remarried by the time their kid gets to high school. Good for them (I say this with complete bitterness in case you were wondering). But I also think I’ve figured out why I felt so “uncool.” I think it has to do with the high school itself. Something about walking onto a high school campus immediately takes me back to my pubescent years. It’s in the walls, the closed off classrooms, the teachers who stare down at you, the “cool” kids who have never been bullied, the boys who will never love you. It’s like years of all these typical high school traumas of years past get absorbed into the walls, and then if you’re like me and still worry about such petty things, the walls reach around you and strangle you with all the disappointments, fears, and self-loathing you though you had left behind.
God damn, maybe I should be wearing doc martins.
But oh, it gets worse. In three weeks I will be attending my 20 year high school reunion. That I’m attending alone. Why do I so love to torture myself?