Tuesday, February 5, 2013

All new to me

Since fall of 2004, I’ve been receiving emails addressed to “Class of 2013.” This is my 14-year-old son’s official designation at the Carlisle Public School: class of 2013. So when I received an email last month addressed to “Class of 2017,” I was momentarily puzzled. 2017 – where did that come from? I wondered. A misprint?

Oh, right. We’re halfway through Tim’s eighth grade year. This is our first official correspondence from the high school he’ll attend next year – where he will, in fact, be part of the class of 2017.

The email was an invitation to eighth grade parents to attend tonight’s tour and presentation at the high school. And at first, I avoided putting it on my calendar. The whole idea of high school fills me with mild anxiety. It doesn’t seem to bother Tim a whit, but it is certainly bringing out my insecurities.

At some point recently, it occurred to me why this was. Tim started attending the Carlisle Public School in kindergarten and is now in his ninth year there. As such, he is following the same course I did. I graduated from the same K-8 school he’ll soon graduate from, but I did not attend the public high school, as he will. So next fall, for the first time in nine years – and effectively for the first time in his life, if we don’t count preschool – I’ll be sending him off to a school that wasn’t once my school. A campus with which I’m almost entirely unfamiliar. A cafeteria in which I’ve never sat down to lunch. An auditorium within which I’ve never attended an assembly. Hallways whose smells aren’t a part of my earliest memories. This will all be new to me – and within his first day or two there, Tim will know the school better than I do.

But when I finally took the time to read through the email and realize that tonight’s presentation was truly the first signal that Tim would soon be off to high school, I had to confront the fact that the anxieties were all mine, not Tim’s. He doesn’t talk about high school much, but when he does, he’s sanguine. He’s looking forward to a bigger campus, the possibility of playing freshman football, and having classes with some of the Concord kids he’s met through regional baseball teams over the years. And he’s not apprehensive at all that he’ll be off to a place with which his mother is unfamiliar – that’s my issue, not his. In fact, he seems to know more about it already than I do. A few days ago, for reasons I can’t remember, Holly asked him where high school kids go for Spanish class. “The L building,” he replied nonchalantly. 

“The L building?” I repeated nervously. The campus is that huge – they have Buildings A through L? Or even more?

“L for language, Mom,” Tim said. How he knew that I don’t know, but it turned out he was right. Foreign language classes are in fact in the L building.

By the time my younger child is graduating from eighth grade and getting ready for high school, it will all feel familiar to me. Maybe it will even feel familiar to her, as a second child. So tonight I’ll head off to the high school for the first time as a prospective high school parent, and maybe then I’ll feel less apprehensive. Last time Tim entered a new school, he was five years old and following in the same footsteps I’d set 32 years earlier. This time it’s all new. But he’s not concerned, and so I will try not to be either. 

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