It’s that time of year again. Kids have gone back to school, parents are back in the routine of “normal”, and schools hold their Open Houses so parents can see how their kid spends his/her day. This is the first year in a while that I have two kids in two different school levels (high school and middle school), so I get to do two Open Houses in two weeks. As compared with having to be in two different schools on the same night, this works for me.
I visited Ryan’s school on Wednesday night and it hit me on multiple levels. It still feels like it was only a little while ago that I was the one in high school, navigating unfamiliar halls for the first time, dealing with kids whose priorities were different from my own (aka, bullies and cliques) and praying that in the sink-or-swim world of academics, I could at least keep my nose above water.
Also, the hero in my latest project is a high school English teacher who writes fiction, so I drank every detail I could gather of the school layout. Public high school in Pennsylvania is SO different from private high school in a converted mansion in Staten Island NY. I can’t say I preferred one over the other; they just are what they are. (Though I have to say, it surprised me to see that Ryan’s HS bore a little resemblance to the school in “Twilight”.)
And then there was the academics. I have to say, I love all his teachers. Well, all the ones I met. I was a little disappointed that the English teacher wasn’t there. Ryan had some issues with English in middle school, and I wanted to make sure the teacher and I were on the same wavelength. Since my mother was a teacher (now retired), I know how vital it is for teachers to be present at these functions, so I can’t imagine what pulled Ryan’s English teacher away for the night. Must’ve been something big.
Each of the teachers I met gave a detailed explanation of what curriculum was covered and what their teaching philosophy was. I didn’t know what to expect so all in all, I was pleasantly surprised.
The real surprise was in finding out that Ryan’s in all honors-weighted courses. If he can keep up with the curriculum level, he could make the National Honors Society. I remember some of my friends belonged to NHS, and I was so jealous, but like I said, it was a struggle for me just to stay above C level. Please don’t ask me about my Law grade in senior year. I’m still so disappointed in myself because for one brief, shining moment, I thought I could be a lawyer. Law is fascinating. It’s like geometry, in that you have to put all the right pieces together to construct an accurate theorem. One wrong piece and the whole thing falls apart. But I digress.
NHS was unattainable for me, but Ryan’s on track for it. I could not be prouder. Somehow I managed to deliver unto this world someone who has the capability of exceeding me. I still can’t figure out how I did that. What did I do right? And can I give it one more try to see if I can do better? (Just kidding, God!) He has the potential to do right, all the things I didn’t. Color me delighted, surprised, and thrilled.
Of course, I fully realize it might not happen. When I started in high school, I was placed in advanced math but after the first semester, it became apparent to all involved that I couldn’t cut the mustard, and I went back to “regular” math. I’m sorry, I’m just not a numbers person. My checkbook looks like a natural disaster. I can’t count to twenty without thinking, “Did I miss something?” So if Ryan gets through this first marking period and we find that the honors course load he’s carrying is too much for him, I’ll still be proud as hell of him because he tried. Yeah, sure, I know Yoda said something about, “Do or do not. There is no try,” but in this case I think we can make an exception. He’s still the best kid he can be, and that matters more than anything else.
Yesterday he mentioned that he “still hasn’t figured out what I want to do”, but I reminded him that he’s a freshman; he doesn’t have to chart a career path yet. I also mentioned that at the Open House, instead of just hanging a flag in the corner in the morning, each room has a television set and every morning, a broadcast team presents the news and annoucements. (A far cry from that scratchy speaker stuff we strained to hear when we were in school!) They’re looking for anchors and technicians, and knowing he loved working the camera in our in-house studio on Take Your Kid to Work Day, I told him he should apply. He surprised me by saying he was thinking about applying to be an anchor. I told him, “If you want some good examples, watch the news tonight.” Can I see my kid being the next Walter Cronkite?
Hell yeah! Go for it! I love you, Ryan!
Addendum, 9 hours later: watch this video by Billy Ray Cyrus. I’m fine right up until the little voice says, “Dada,” and then I lose it every time.