My sons recently started high school. Not only that, they left the school they had been at for 11 years (they could have stayed) so for only the second time, they were starting at a school where they knew few, if any, kids. And they don’t even remember the first time, because they were three, after all.
(Look, I know, as triplets, they will always know at least two kids wherever they go. But they don’t see it that way.)
What’s so different about high school, anyway?
Plenty. More than I expected.
1. For us, it’s a lack of uniforms. And it’s glorious. Not just because they can express themselves however they like via their clothes, but also because it means I don’t have to buy overpriced polo shirts. That said, they still wear soccer jerseys and athletic shorts like it’s their uniform, but whatever. I have been volunteering at Ben’s Books (the school’s concession stand that’s open at lunch) and it is an absolute delight to see the way other kids express themselves through their clothes and hair and makeup. I’m happy that they ended up at a school (Ben Franklin) that has a very lenient dress code policy.
2. The students are expected to be self-sufficient. I love this. At orientation, we were told that if a student wants to drop a class, they email their teacher, not Mom or Dad. If they need extra tutoring, the students are given the information they need to get that from their teachers. I don’t have to arrange it for them.
3. Relaxed pick up. There was a time when I picked them up from school in the afternoons, and every day I would panic about being a minute or two late getting them, knowing it would mean steep fees for aftercare (times three.) Now, they can just hang out at school until 5:30, if necessary, so I don’t have to worry if there’s an accident or extra bad traffic on the bridge. (Guess what? There’s always an accident or extra bad traffic on the bridge.) If they need to stay behind to talk to their teachers or stand in line for the vending machine or chat with their friends, they can.
4. Sports. (I ask again, how did I end up with sporty kids?) This is the big time. Even if, at best, they end up on the JV team (but more likely just the freshman team) they have the opportunity to play at a higher level than they were able to in middle school. With weight training sessions and practices every day and games in the evenings. And spectator sports too! A real football team! Which means…
5. Homecoming. Actually, this is a moot point because my boys don’t plan to go. Maybe next year.
6. But that brings me to a point that will not apply to everyone. And it’s the difference between being at a school that started when they started, so is still in its relative infancy, and going to a school that has been around for decades, whose teachers are alumni, where there are a thousand clubs to join, and fully outfitted classrooms and labs and where things run like clockwork. Nothing against their previous school, but having things run so smoothly without growing pains is a real treat for the parents and the students.
7. This may not seem like a positive, but high school is exhausting. The trip across town to get there and back, the amount of homework, and the academic rigor of the school means they’re exhausted in a way they haven’t been since kindergarten. They don’t protest their 10:00 bedtime anymore, that’s for sure.