Husband and I went to the high school open house last night, our seventh one now, starting with our son's entry into high school (Bar Mitzvahzilla, not quite thirteen anymore as a junior in college.) This is basically a sped up day of our kid's schedule, ten minutes per class and a passing period in which all the parents are hoofing it through the hallways, stumbling around lost, peering farsightedly at school maps.
Other years there has been this: parents we know, socializing, stopping in the hallways almost like we're in high school just for that one night, talking until the bell rings, dashing into our kids' classes late. We'd run into neighborhood friends, synagogue friends, Jewish community friends, maybe business friends. Sometimes we weren't exactly sure how we knew specific people - were they from our brief sojourn as Reform, rather than Conservative, Jews five years before? Were they from the the charter school our son went to from third to fifth grade? Where on the map of our lives, both separate and joint, did these people fall? And, more importantly, had we completely lost our minds that we were no longer sure?
But this time we walked quietly along, undisturbed, interrupted only once, by another parent eager to see one familiar face. Our voices were scratchy from non-use. We were on time for every class, sitting quietly in our seats. We are reminded with a thud that this, too is coming to an end, just like preschool came to an end, and elementary school, and middle school. We're on the Open House countdown and we only have two more.
I realized suddenly that I hadn't just been going to these open houses for the chance to meet the teachers and put them on red alert that Daughter or Son has a pair of lunatic parents at the ready if they should do something off the edge (and somehow I have a perfect instinct for where that edge is.) But I'd apparently also been going there for the other part of the experience, to run into friends, to share the experience, all too fleeting, that we're high school parents here in this moment in time with all of its insanities, all of its SAT-preparedness, with all of its student-driveredness, with it boiling down to one central concept: we are parents of teenagers yet our own teen years feel like just a moment away, like I could walk in the next classroom and find myself instead, the 70s version, and there'd be no surprise.
The English teacher outlines her strict cell phone policy - phones in backpacks and backpacks in the back of the room - one which has infuriated Daughter and has our full approval. Our eyes gleam at this thwarting of the teenaged will.
And just as she's finishing up, just by chance, just in that teacher's classroom, friendless and almost run out of there by all the younger parents, Husband gets a call and takes it, right there in the classroom.