My Last Parents Night -- 10/22/02
This is what jetlag looks like....

These photos are from a trip to London three or four years ago. Fly all night long, reach Heathrow, take train into town. Wanted to buy a one week transit pass... you need a photo on it... okay, take my picture, just like at the DMV... No, you have to supply a photo... and right around the corner in the station is a coin-op photo booth, four pictures for a pound (or whatever)... No, the picture that ended up on my London Underground transit pass doesn't look any better than these.
No, not tonight... it was Thursday night last week.

I went to Parents Night at my son's high school. He is in his senior year... 12th grade... he'll graduate in June and that's it. No more Parents Night or Open House Night or Meet the Teachers Night (each school seems to try to find a different name for it).

Thirty-one years of this (if you count nursery school and it's my journal so I'm going to count it). Adam started nursery school in September of 1971. Each year I went to his Open House Nights. And by the time he graduated from high school I was going to Jennifer's Open House Nights and then to Sean's as well... many years of two different parent nights, one for each of them, with only one conflict, fall of 1999 when she was a senior and he was a freshman in the same school. Nancy and I had to split our coverage that night, Nancy following Sean's schedule while I followed Jennifer's. (They had also overlapped one year in St. Patrick's Middle School in Binghamton when he was in 4th grade and she was in 7th, but the school held a separate parents night for 4th graders because they were new to the school.)

Thursday night began with Electronics class (yes, I confess, I blew off the principal's welcoming speech, etc. in the auditorium... been there, heard that)... followed by pre-calc (which is where Nancy caught up with me as she was coming directly from a tennis match)... The pre-calculus teacher was very interesting; he'd spent 32 years in engineering, retired, and this was his 4th year as a high school math teacher. I spoke with him briefly between periods and he had good things to say about Sean's work. Then came French II and his French teacher also had good things to say about him. In fact, she said she had been trying to persuade him to switch to Honors French. (I did not point out that the reason he might be ahead of his classmates at this point is that he also took French II last year but failed it.) His lit teacher was not there that night and Nancy was not interested in hearing what the physical education instructors might have to say, so that gave us two periods free... we visited the cafeteria where a student string trio was playing chamber music and various student organizations had set up displays... and then checked out the library/media center. His videography teacher was showing a tape of some television commercials his students had done as class projects. They were all well done and amusing... although we had not expected to see him as the star of one of the commercial... taped in our living room (we were pleased that it looked pretty good on television). And then finally came Physics. I think his physics teacher has been teaching this stuff for years, but he seemed to be really good, at least in the mini-lesson he taught to us, someone who is interested in the students and enthusiastic about his subject.

I was aware, of course, that this would be my last parents night... in fact, I had planned to write about it the next day... but did the Friday Five instead. This has been hitting me more and more since then.

I'm never again going to go to a school open house night for one of my children. They are grown.

Oh, I suppose next year his college will have some kind of orientation session for parents -- Jennifer's school had one -- but that's not quite the same, now, is it?

I remember driving Adam to his school, my car loaded with his stuff, helping him carry his stuff into his dormitory, meeting a former professor of mine (from my grad school days back when Adam was in nursery school) who was now president of the college Adam was attending. Jennifer's college had an orientation program where she and I attended some lectures, then students went off to sessions just for them while parents got tours of the campus, then back together for lunch. After lunch the students stayed on campus (an overnight orientation) while the parents left.

So I suppose I get one last shot, attending some kind of Welcome Parents thing at college, but that's not quite the same.

As part of the on-going process of getting ready to move my office to a different floor, I've been cleaning out my desk and found the strip of pictures you see in the left column.

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