August 13, 2005

School Year Community

My children are starting new schools this year. One has graduated to middle school, the other two are starting at a magnet school across town. Today was meet the teacher day. This is the day when you go and find your child's classroom and yes, meet the teacher.

For most of my children's education, this has also been the begininng of school year socialization for the parents. Everyone coos about how much the other children have grown, catch up about summer vacations, the heat, etc. I think that this qualifies as a real life of the Nancy White sort. Parents see faces they recognize from logging hours in car pick up, soccer games, school plays and they pick up where they left off. Most of these back to school conversations are not with people you know well, but with people you are acquainted with enough to chat amiably for a few minutes. Mostly they may be "alex's mom" "Tyler's mom" "Lauren's Dad" to you.

Today was not like that. I knew one other mother at one child's meet the teacher. I knew no parents at the second child's meet the teacher. There was one mom at the third child's meet the teacher that I knew sort of vaguely, enough to smile at her and say hello when she said hi to my son but not well enough not to say "who was that girl" after they were out of earshot. Of course, once she had a name I could picture her in a dozen school performances and at the graduation a few months ago. She really has grown a foot this summer. The other mom I knew well was because she was my boss for about a year. This makes for some awkwardness because when we see each other outside of work there is a different dynamic than at work but I am still well, a bit odd. But we made the rounds, met the teachers. We shared a map at middle school with another parent. But, I missed the east community.

I am sure that with the little kids there will be enough gatherings that I will soon know many other parents and next year won't be so community-less. I am not so sure about the big kid though. Middle school is the beginning of the end of parents involvement in social lives. Playdates (shhh, I know, the teenagers hate it when I say they have playdates) will no longer be long afternoons of iced tea and cheese nips. Of course, they haven't been for a while.

On the other wasn't gone. Parents still looked for another face that was as bewildered about schedules, school supplies and how do you find the room. Kids still sized up their classmates, said hello to the ones they did know from the secret lives they seem to lead even at their young age...the boy from camp, the girl from youth group, the kid who Lauren's babysitter sometimes brought with her to work. The interesting thing of course was parents sizing up other parents. That, of course, is part of community too. I will no doubt ramble about that later. But, so far, the community_indicators for the school year are mixed. It is a year of me making new friends, having new faces to recognize, learning new rules, but surely I can find community in a new place. Plenty of people do it every day and I know I can do it as well.

And guess second grader will be BLOGGING this year in school.


Emsxiety said...

When do they officially start school? My son is in the last year of middle school this year and my daughter will be a sophmore.
I am still finding parents from the first year my daughter started up here when I drop her off the first day. It can be a nice sense of community.

TW said...

They start school Monday.

Shelly said...

middle school is odd isn't it? I found the same thing at the elementary school I knew the secretary the principal, and several parents along with some teachers, but when I took J to the middle school I felt like I was missing a bunch of stuff I didn't even know the lay out of the school....we will adapt but I still wish I knew more about the middle school then I did before.