Back to School Night: High School Edition!
It is 6:30 pm on a Wednesday evening. My tired bones have been plodding along since 6 am. My brain is trying to siphon out the stress of a standard work day. The temperature hovers around 80 degrees, with the humidity at 3,974% and rising - a strange forecast for October, but nonetheless, a forecast we must accept. I want nothing more than to pull my humidity-induced flattened hair into a ponytail, throw on a tattered t-shirt and shorts, fill a giant bowl with ice cream, situate myself in front of the TV and enter a vegetative state of nothingness.
I am unable to put these fantasy plans into motion however, for tonight is back to school night - high school edition!
Yes, it is my 15-year old daughter Melissa's first foray into that land where childhood notions are left behind and adolescent expectations take hold. A world where sleeping teens board the bus before the sun rises and then attempt to digest and retain information from nine different teachers, all while navigating the maze-like halls of this behemoth of a building.
I ask Melissa for the better option, short sleeves or long. Both, she explains. Some classrooms are broiling hot, while others mimic the arctic circle. I soon discover she speaks the truth. A short sleeve shirt and a jacket solves the dilemma.
I arrive 25 minutes early, but so do 1,927 other parents. Luck is with me as the seas part and a parking space suddenly appears before my eyes, a mere three feet from the front doors of Behemoth High School. I turn off the ignition and look around. Dozens of hesitant parents are sitting in their cars, attempting to determine the appropriate time to actually exit their vehicle and walk into the school. As for me, I throw caution to the wind and leave my car in preparation for the short journey. The humidity has not loosened its grip on the area......the jacket comes off.
I walk into the building and am greeted by a blast of cool air....the jacket goes on. I glance at the poor excuse for a map that my dear child had attempted to make easier to read by color-coding all of her classrooms. My first stop, room B100 is in the aptly named "B" wing. I begin my hallway navigation and much to my surprise, arrive early with no difficulty whatsoever. Only trouble is, I am now too early. I can see Melissa's home room teacher through the small window getting the room ready for the influx of moms and dads. I lean against the wall, trying not to appear awkward, until I am accosted by two teen boys, one carrying a microphone, the other a video camera.
"Would you like to say a few words for the camera," asks teen boy 1.
"Sure!" I say with enthusiasm, fully aware that this video has a higher than average chance of embarrassing my daughter to such an extreme that she may just have to run away and join the circus.
"What is your student's name?" asks teen boy 2.
"Melissa Weinstein," I happily reply.
"Would you like to say anything to Melissa?" asks teen boy 1.
"Melissa, I am so happy to be here at Back to School Night. I know I will have fun and I am sure all of your teachers will think you are wonderful!"
Teens 1 and 2 thank me and move on. I walk into home room, fully aware my actions may have just cost me all of my limbs.
During home room, we watch a prerecorded video of the principal, the superintendent, and the school board all telling us in a cue-card reading monotone how excited they are for the new school year. I feel my eyelids getting heavy...my bed is calling to me....I am drifting...drifting...
My eyes instinctively open in response to the sound of the bell. Time to move on.
My next task is to find my way to Melissa's health class in room D122. The home room teacher provides helpful directions.
"Make a left out of the classroom, then an immediate right, then a left, then a right, then a left, then a right, then a right, then a right, then another left, then go up the stairs and make a right, a left, a right, a left, a right, a right, a right, and another left."
Predictably, I am now lost and running the risk of being late for health class.
I turn right, then left, then right and find myself in the "C" wing. I spot a small sign, with an arrow indicating the elusive "D" wing is to the right. I start walking, and walking, and walking....until finally I come across a group of students.
"Which way is the "D" wing," I ask in desperation.
The girls point to the left.
I silently curse the sign and rejoin the sea of befuddled parents until I finally find my way to the "D" wing. I begin the walk down the long hallway, strategically following the signs on the classroom doors.
D116. Ok, seems I'm heading in the right direction.
D117. This is good, just keep going.
D118. Almost there.
D119. Should only be three more doors.
D120. So close I can feel it.
Where in the &*@#$ is D122!?
A security guard points me in the right direction and I arrive in health, catch my breath, and shrink against the wall in the now standing room only class room. Five minutes later, the bell rings again, giving the helpless parents the signal that it is now time to claw their way to second period, which, in my case, is Honors English.
I practically run down the hall, ignoring the friendly greetings from moms and dads I've known since our kids started every morning with circle time in first grade. I would not be late this time!
The English teacher, like those before and after him, attempt to explain the 10-month long curriculum in the allotted 10 minutes time.
"This year we are going to ......"
Time to move on.
And so it went. For 2 long hours.
Spanish class...jacket comes off.
Science class.......jacket goes on.
Algebra class........jacket comes off.
Lunch. Hooray! Snacks in the cafeteria. I drink a bottle of water in one gulp and inhale a soft pretzel.
Photography class....jacket goes on.
Finally, it is time to leave Behemoth High School and journey home......... to my bed.
As I walk in the door, Melissa eagerly wants to know what I think about her school and her teachers. "I got lost," comes my best attempt at describing the evening.
She nods in agreement. "I knew you would," she laughs.
I then try to share my impressions from the brief flashes of information shared by nine different teachers. Suddenly I remember the video. I consider not telling her, but then, if I appear on Behemoth High School's morning news without a warning, well, I'll just have to learn to cope without arms or legs.
"MOM!" she shouts in horror. "HOW COULD YOU!! WHEN YOU SEE A CAMERA YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO JUST RUN AWAY!"
Thus ends my first high school back to school night. Who needs limbs anyway?
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