Third Time Around by Sharon O’Donnell

       Having three sons with a ten school years between the oldest and youngest certainly has kept me busy. We’ve had at least one son in public school since 1996. Whew! That’s a lot of school projects, vocabulary tests, and Algebra and Calculus tutors.  My youngest son will start high school in August, and last week we went to the open house at the school. My oldest son went one year (9th grade) at this same school before he was transferred to a new school that the county needed to fill (it was not closer to our home but was actually four miles farther away); then my middle son started at the new school when my oldest was  a senior there before being transferred back to the previous school where he went for 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. Our neighborhood was constantly being moved around in the school assignment, which is another story altogether. 

        When I took my youngest son to the open house, I entered the school and took a deep breath, as I thought of the GPA struggles, the AP and Honors classes, research papers, and chemistry labs to come. It was time to do it again. High school is a highly-competitive, sleep-deprived time, and I know it will be challenging. These will also be the last four years I will have my youngest at home, which truly blows my mind.  So I certainly don’t want to wish it away; yet, I know it will be stressful.

       I was amazed when my oldest son’s 9th grade Algebra teacher recognized me from a decade ago. When my youngest son and I walked outside of a building, the teacher did a double take at us, and said, “Hey, I know you guys.”  Of course, the fact that my  youngest looks a lot like my oldest also helped him to identify us. Then an English teacher of my middle son’s recognized me too. The buildings themselves were already familiar to me because in addition to having my other sons to attend there, I also attended 10th grade there before being transferred to a new school (reassignments happened back in 1978 too). I still remembered the cafeteria, the walkways between buildings, and even where some of my classes had been. The more I walked around, the more I doubted whether or not I had the stamina to go through high school a fourth time — once on my own and three through the ups and downs of my sons.  But I have to remember that as familiar as high school is to me, it is totally new to my youngest, and I don’t want my exhaustion with it all affect him. 

     And yes, I’ve already been asked to fill — and accepted — a spot on the PTSA.   Four years to go . . . .




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