I Think My Spaceship Knows Which Way to Go

High school kids are hopeless. Maybe not all of them, but enough of them that if you took the whole lot of them and stuffed them into a spaceship and sent it off to orbit the earth for about four years, what would the downside be? Besides the smell? OK, maybe sports would suffer a little bit. Teen Jeopardy would be virtually put out of business, and you’d be hard pressed to get waited on in a Chick-fil-A. But overall, the rest of us would have fewer deep lines in our foreheads.

I could brain my two high school kids right now. They don’t listen to the announcements at school, so they miss all kinds of important news like the fact that seniors were supposed to bring in pictures for a slide show, yearbook orders have come and gone, and the school has a graduation in May. If you want to be part of it you are supposed to have ordered a cap and gown.

So as a mom who wants them to have wonderful memories of these great times whether they like it or not, dammit, I’m forced to log onto the school Web site every morning and read the announcements myself. I also check their grades, question and appeal their attendance records, and sign them up for SATs. I could run for sophomore class secretary right now and probably get elected just on my organizational skills.

I like my spaceship idea because I know there is no changing them. You can’t talk to them or work with them to try to improve their lot in life. I know this because I was a super smart teenager and I screwed up almost daily. I can’t imagine what the losers of my school were doing. (Although I’ve heard from stories and it’s freaky, man, freaky.)

[I’d like to take a moment to say that if any of my kids or their friends are reading this, stop right now. I mean it. This is an adult conversation starting now and you should go on My Space or start packing for the spaceship.]

My own high school screw-ups are amazing to me now. What the hell was I thinking? And when I was walking out the front door on my way to do something stupid - starting with getting into my friend Terry’s Corvair - all my mother had to say was, “Aren’t you going to curl your bangs?”

My straight bangs were the least of my problems. That Corvair was not only “unsafe at any speed,” it was dangerous with the ignition off parked in the Dairy Queen parking lot. And speaking of tomfoolery in cars, once, after a high school musical performance, we all piled into someone’s VW bug to go god knows where and were laughing our asses off when the driver said she couldn’t get over 10 mph. “I’m flooring it, you guys, and we’re still going this slow!” We thought we had overloaded the car and I pictured the headlights sweating like a cartoon of Herbie. Found out later that someone’s box of roses had slipped under the gas pedal. It wasn’t until about 15 years later that I started to worry about what would have happened if the flower box had slipped under the brake pedal instead.

Cast of Music Man Perishes in Freak Bouquet Mishap

We would have been legends.

[I’m going to put this thread to bed now before I’m tempted to get into anything racier than riding in small, questionable cars, since I have a feeling my kids ignored the first bracketed, italicized warning.]

But as remarkably not-smart as I was, I still was responsible for getting my own paperwork, orders and school related documents in on time. My friend Diane K and I, both in the process of getting a child ready for college in the fall, were commenting on how things have changed.

“When we were seniors, my mother didn’t lift a finger to as much as fill out a form for me,” Diane said. “I had to do everything myself.” It’s true. We took each other to important events where parents were needed, taking turns to dress conservatively and be the mom.

Whereas, yesterday I had to go to my kids’ high school to buy bootleg graduation announcements (I think baccalaureate was misspelled but no one will notice) from the assistant principal scalper, because my son missed the order deadline in November.

You know how I hate to go into the high school. And it was at dismissal so I stuck out like a sore thumb in the crowded hallways. I was the only one wearing a color.