we like to leave an impression

I like Open House nights at the High School. Elementary and Middle School teachers use Open House nights to read rules and sternly lecture parents as if parents are too stupid to read and incapable of parenting their own children. Middle school teachers and administrators are terrified by technology and scold parents on the dangers of the Internet. They are also more worried about the color of students’ hair than if the students own a coat or have food to eat. High School teachers expect parents to read on their own time. They know that parents wouldn’t be there if they didn’t care. They don’t expect students to be one size fits all. They answer questions instead of requiring private conferences for simple discussions. Last night was the high school’s Open House night. Doug took Sarah’s schedule and I took Tommy’s schedule. Sarah babysat the two youngest in the school cafeteria. I imagined the teenager that belonged to each parent I saw. The mother who walked in late smacking on gum and grunting instead of replying to the teacher’s greeting, the father who joked about his child being a trouble-maker, the parent who texted on her cell phone all night – oh, that was me. In my own defense, I was texting the babysitter who insisted that everything was fine instead of telling me the 2-year-old needed a new diaper and the husband who consistently gets confused and goes to the wrong class. He is famous for misreading the class schedule. Last night he walked in the art room and loudly declared “Buenos Tardes” instead of going to Sarah’s Spanish class. “You must be Sarah’s father” just confirmed his status as a space cadet. I listened to a young 20-something Intern nervously telling parents how “cool” Chemistry is while Doug wished he could be a high school student again. The babysitter sent me pictures to prove she was watching her siblings while Evan’s behind blistered from neglect. I looked at the textbook which sucked all the fun and creativity out of a computer class while Doug talked about art museums. Two hours after we arrived, we were ready to go home with dirty children, the world’s worst babysitter and a wild animal trap. Doug couldn’t follow the assigned schedule, but he could drop by his favorite teacher’s class to chat about the squirrels in our attic. Nothing makes you feel quite as redneck as the total stranger walking down the school hallway who smiles and says “Good luck catching your rodent” as you try to escape the building.

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