For the second year in a row I was surprised by the amount of parents that showed up to Open House. Not that I’m bagging on Gen X parents, its just that as a group we’ve decided its okay to have a crap ton of stuff going on everyday after school. Open House is a one-time addition to schedule. And one-timers are the kind of things that get forgotten or purposely ignored.
Anyway, I went to 8th Grade House Open House last year for Rye. I enjoyed it. It literally, not figuratively, was the first time I’d walked the halls of any school going from class to class since the final days of May 1988 when I was finishing up high school. Also finishing up in May of 1988? Cheap Trick’s run at #1 on the top 40 chart with The Flame.
Rye, being the organized oldest child, provided me with a map of the school, a class schedule with the room numbers, snacks, a swiss army knife and GPS locater. She numbered each room with its corresponding period. This year I was expecting a similar night.
However there was a glitch.
Who has two thumbs and showed up to Open House without a map or a class schedule?
Seriously. I did. And when I got to the first room which was a “team meeting” in the cafeteria it was extremely obvious I was the only parent without a school map printed on a light blue sheet and my kid’s class schedule written on a yellow sheet.
What did I have? A phone, a pen, two sticks of gum along with a mix of annoyance and panic. If I was MacGyver I would have justed whipped whip up a makeshift schedule and rudimentary classroom map. But I’m not MacGyver. I’m bad at science and comparing my hair to his at this juncture in my hair’s personal timeline is, well, like claiming the president is completely on top his foreign policy.
So what do you do when the bell rings and you have to go to 1st period and you don’t have a map or a schedule. Well, the first thing you do is mask your displeasure with the situation. Then you panic. Not like freak out levels of panic but panic none the less. Because who hasn’t had this dream. You show up for the first day of school and you can’t find your locker, don’t know how to get to your first class and the cool kids are all lurking behind corners to ridicule you and your knock off Levi’s faded jean jacket.
A normal man would cower. Hide. Melt under pressure so intense it can only be compared to the level-headed steely eyed coolness displayed by Thomas Magnum when he finally cornered Ivan and asked him if he’d seen the sunrise this morning. I did have an advantage however. A few weeks ago after going through the 7th grade registration process I walked Kinz through the building. Then a few days later we did it again. And again. She wanted to be sure she knew where everything was so we literally walked her daily route. Three times. Including locker stops. Yeah, not kidding. She wanted to time herself so she was certain she could get to her locker, open it, exchange class materials, close it and make it to next class on time. She did this despite me telling her that the school knows it’s the first day or two of school and will cut the 7th graders some slack since they are all new.
But all of that frustration had an ancillary benefit. I not only learned where her classes were but had a pretty good grip on order in which they occur. Like when you leave your clock radio on as you fall asleep in the August of ’82 and you wake up singing You Should Hear How She Talks About You by Melissa Manchester. Not proud of it, just saying that sometimes you learn things by just showing up and being there. I mean Joe Biden knows where the launch codes are and pretty much all he does is embarrass himself and, well, show up.
First period is Consumer Education. Right down the hall from our team meeting in the cafeteria. Second period is English. That’s down the hall, up the stairs, quick right turn. Third period is Math, just down the hall from English. And fourth period is…um…crap…I can remember what I have for fourth period!
Call Kinz quick before first period starts and her Consumer Ed teacher flips me a dirty look for being on my cell phone when class starts.
“Kinz, hey its Dad, text me the room number, teacher’s name and subject for your class schedule so I know where the heck I’m going.”
“This is no time for questions. This a Def Con 1 Code Red Alert. Text me the stuff right now! Gotta go, class is about to start!”
I notice at this point that my phone is dying. I get the ominous, “Please connect to your charger” message. Yeah, sure, no problem. No way I’m asking to borrow a charger so I can plug my phone in. I’ll spend the rest of Open House in freaking detention. How the hell would I explain that to Kinz?
Consumer Ed, turns out, is pretty cool. It’s kinda like a financial literacy class. Too bad nobody on Harry Reid’s staff had to take this. Anyway, they learn personal budgeting, about bank accounts, the stock markets, etc. I considered suggesting they spend some time on corporate welfare and why its strangling the rest of us…or you can just read Paul Ryan’s new book. Either way. Kept it to myself though. Already was a little late to my seat due to my conversation with Kinz after all.
Class ends and my phone buzzes. She sends me this:
“2nd Period English Rm 2318. 3rd Period Math Rm 2310. 5th Period Science Rm 1317. 6th Period Social Studies.”
Yeah, um, where the hell is 4th period? And what is the freaking room number for Social Studies? And since I don’t have a schedule sheet, like the rest of the far more prepared parents, I checked out the sheets of the Dad sitting next to me in English. Turns out we have 7 periods…so I’m gonna need to know where freaking hell that is too. Hence my response.
“Think you might have left something out. What about 4th? Room # for 6th? 7th Period?”
While I’m waiting for the response I listen to the English teacher. She’s a self-described dinosaur who still uses A LOT of paper and wants everyone to read books that she has on the shelves in her room. She also has what was described as a Curriculum or Learning Strategist that is also present in the room. The Strategist seemed like a very nice woman. I just was never real clear on what she did.
Then its over to Math. Which, if you recall, I know exactly how to find since I have the map of the school lasered onto my brain. The math teacher is hilarious. Which I found odd. Also pretty young and was sporting some nose jewelry. A hoop. It was distracting. But this teacher is super organized. Everything is on a website. Literally no excuses about not knowing what they were supposed to do. She even links to youtube videos of herself explaining the daily lesson so the kids can refer to it. They also had a funeral on Wednesday in class. For their “I Can’ts.” She had them list all the things they can’t do in math. Turns out most of them involved fractions. And they shredded them. She wore black and everything.
After that its down to chorus. How did I know? Well during math I got text from Kinz that said to go to Room 1158. I never was in chorus. Or anything remotely resembling chorus. So I was bored. But I listened. The best I could. All I can remember is at one point during the year they learn patriotic songs. Sounds good as long as one of the songs is The Battle Hymn of the Republic. No word on the use of 80’s hair metal.
Down the hall to Science. The Curriculum or Learning Strategist was also present in this class. Still hazy on what she does. Among the things they study are viruses and infectious diseases. I nodded approvingly knowing this will give the kids a base of understanding of what happens when the Zombie Apocalypse eventually happens. And how socialism is, in fact, a disease. They also will learn about the health effects of alcohol and smoking. I assume they will leave out all the good stuff…
Get text back telling me what room is home to Social Studies and finally the mystery regarding 7th Period. Spanish Room 2115.
Back up the stairs. The same stairs I’ve been up and down a few times now. I bet Kinz gets sick of these stairs. But they are pretty close to her locker giving her the advantage of not having lug around a lot of books and stuff. So that must be nice. But there’s no time to contemplate logistical minutiae, I gotta get to Social Studies!
Yes, Social Studies. The greatest of all school subjects. The only subject in which I once qualified for an AP class. Sophomore year I wrote a paper on what might have happened if Rommel won at El Alamein. But that’s beside the point. I get into class and we start going through the various units. Finally reaching “Unit 7: The Age of Revolution.” The Social Studies teacher then drops this on us, “This is an extremely important unit as the French and Russian Revolutions changed the political landscape not just in Europe but globally.”
Um…Hells To The Yes. I want to go to this class with Kinz. It’s going to be difficult not to rush home to do, I mean help with, her Social Studies homework. Don’t you wish you could have an hour or so every day at work where you go to a class about something that is awesome? Like “Unit 8: The World Wars – including The Cold War.” Man, I am so jealous. These kids don’t even realize there was an East and West Germany. Or what Blitzkreig means. Or what an astoundingly bad president Woodrow Wilson was.
Unfortunately, I still have Spanish. But, and I’m not afraid to admit this, I nearly skipped 7th Period to go to my favorite bar – The DT. But it was a Wednesday night and I’m not in college so I just went ahead and sat down in Spanish. The teacher begins her discussion with the parents by rattling off at least a paragraph and a-half of gibberish. I assumed it was in Spanish. Turns out she’s a retired high school Honors Spanish teacher who is subbing for the next 8-10 weeks because the normal teacher just had a baby. I don’t really have an opinion on either because, well, I’m just really, really happy I don’t have to take any more Spanish classes.
But that’s it for 7th Grade Open House. Didn’t have one for 9th Grade and I’m kinda upset about that. Because its not very often you get to directly employ the lessons of Gunny Highway in Heartbreak Ridge and improvise, adapt and overcome.