When my son was born his Dad and I calculated when he would graduate from High School — and laughed in disbelief. 2011?? A different century? It was beyond our comprehension. Partially because we were so sleep deprived that pretty much everything was beyond our comprehension. And partially because the days of feeding the baby, changing the baby, trying to get the baby to stop screaming, changing the baby again, living through the terror of misplacing the nukkie (he was very attached to the nukkie almost immediately), trying to get the baby to sleep (he almost NEVER SLEPT, no exaggeration, and when he did sleep, it was for 20 minutes, max.), doing laundry, etc. seemed to last f-o-r-e-v-e-r. We couldn’t imagine that this teensy grouchy being would ever leave the house, much less go to school.
Now, in the blink of an eye, he is a Senior in High School.
This bring up all sorts of stuff for me — along with the “where did the time go?” and “God I wish I could go back and do it (parenting) again, better this time” angst is the “God I would give anything to be his age again….to have my whole life ahead of me, to be young and free and beautiful and full of anticipation” and “I can’t believe I spent even one minute of high school/college worried or stressed about things like grades, or my hair, or boys.” nostalgic and wishful thinking.
I’m also trying to wrap my head around how completely different his high school experience is from mine.
First off, he goes to a fancy-pants urban high school that has more students on it’s “campus” than the population of the entire town I lived in when I was in high school. His graduating class is approximately 1,000 kids. Mine was 43. There were less than 300 kids in my entire 9-12 high school. Oh, and we didn’t have a “campus”, we had a “building” with a “gym” inside and a poorly lit football field (wooden bleachers, of course) adjacent to it. My son’s high school has 4 different, large, buildings, several gyms, a swimming pool, a full-blown theater plus it’s own baseball fields, soccer and la crosse fields and a freakin’ stadium.
His school also has security guards, an emergency communication system that allows parents to receive a recorded telephone call in the event of an emergency, and a thriving drug trade. My school had trucks with gun racks (and guns) in the parking lot, one phone in the office and a few kids who smoked (gasp) cigarettes down the street from the school. Yep, hoodlums….
It took me about 2 minutes to walk from a class, to my locker, and back to another class — which left ample time for engaging in a public display of affection with my boyfriend, catching up on gossip and re-applying my lip gloss before I sauntered into class well within the allotted 5 minute break. My son has a 10 minute break — this means that, if classes are in separate buildings he has no time to go to his locker before he starts walking/jogging to his next class while listening to his iPod and checking his phone.
Our lockers were kind of like our “identities” in high school, all the important stuff was there – brush/comb, lip gloss, mirror. We even shared lockers until Senior year. Being locker-mates was much bigger than being Facebook friends. My son lives his school life out of his backpack (which cost more than my first car, but I digress) and has never shared the teensy-weensy metal thing they assign to him every year. His books don’t even fit in it.
Today is “Senior Ditch Day” at my son’s big ass high school. He slept in and now he’s hanging around the house watching TV, surfing the internet, listening to music and texting friends – all at the same time. He has accessed more information about his friends and the entire world in the last few hours than I did in a month when I was his age. He and his friends are just “chilling” today, going out to lunch, maybe a movie and then they are going to a party in a cabin in the mountains tonight. I’m guessing there is more, but this is all the information he is willing to divulge.
I have no specific recollection of my “Senior Ditch Day”, but based on all the other stuff I remember it probably went something like this: sleep in, call girlfriends (one at a time) on my brown ultra-modern rotary phone to see what everyone is doing, spend an hour or two showering/getting ready (totally listening to the Go Gos on my yellow uber-modern cassette player), another half hour picking out something to wear (which shouldn’t have taken this long — I always wore Levi’s 501s, so all I was doing was picking out a top for God’s sake), maybe stop to watch a little General Hospital (Luke and Laura!) or even a Music Video if our cable was working that day, wait for my boyfriend to pick me up, go to Circle K to see if anyone is around, go up to the HS to see what is going on, have lunch at Mama Mazzola’s (no fast food in the entire town!), argue with boyfriend about something stupid, go to the cemetary to make-out, go back to Circle K to get some 3.2 beer or Boone’s Farm Tickle Pink to take to the kegger, refresh hair and make-up while at Circle K, drive forever up mountainous 2 lane highway to get to the field where the party is.
Yes, the field.
Well, a field or, like, a meadow near the river. There was usually a bonfire. Guys would back their trucks up around the fire so we could sit on the tailgates (or, you know, make-out in the back) and whoever had the best soundsystem would slide his best cassette tape in and crank it up. Oh, and lights were important. The guy with the best lights (spotlights and those lights up on top and those lights below the headlights….) on his truck was clearly the Alpha male. Lots of drinking and gobs of hormones. I don’t really remember anyone dancing…. for sure not the guys…. But the music was AWESOME: .38 Special, Eddie Money, Def Leppard, AC/DC, REO Speedwagon, Loverboy, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Van Halen, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, John Cougar, Billy Squier, The Police….. Bitchin’ tunes.*
Somehow everyone found the party even though we didn’t have GPS, cellphones, Facebook or Foursquare. Further, even though we hadn’t had any contact with parents for almost the entire day, they all knew where we were. So did the Sheriff’s Department. They were cool though. The Officers rarely crashed the parties, and if they did, they were usually seen as more protective than intrusive. No matter how you felt about the intrusion though, you did NOT raise a fuss….these guys knew your parents and wouldn’t hesitate to call them.
Pretty much all I had to worry about was (1) getting in trouble for staying out past curfew, and (2) getting pregnant.
My son, on the other hand, has a few more things to worry about:
- updating his Facebook page so his friends know what he is doing.
- calling or texting his parents, individually, to let them know he is alive and sober, or not sober and NOT DRIVING.
- getting arrested for truancy.
- getting a felony DUI or other charge for possession of something bad.**
- getting suspended from high school because of #4.
- not getting into college because of #4.
- kids with guns.
- making sure no incriminating photos or videos appear on Facebook.
- getting an STD and dying.***
- making a baby.
- making up the pile of homework he will get for missing one day of school.
Hmmmmm, I wish he could have a 1983 Senior Ditch Day. Way less complicated.
Happy 2011 Senior Ditch Day!
* I’m going to try to post the playlist I listened to while reminiscing about my senior year in HS. Fuckin’ A!
** My kid isn’t, like, a young Charlie Sheen, but I’m under no illusions that he is not experimenting with anything.
*** I’m sure my kid is not going to a sex party, and if he were going to a sex party, I’m sure he would never have unprotected sex, because ewwww and duh!