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Don’t judge the high school by the parking lot

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We’ve been busy registering our eldest child for high school. I’ve had to visit the campus several times to make sure she’ll be an official member of the Class of 2015, starting next August.

To get to the front doors, I’ve had to run the gauntlet of the F-bomb. Every group of students I pass in the parking lot uses the word at least once in conversation. They’re also fond of calling each other by another F-word used to disparage gay people.

In a high school parking lot, pedestrians do not have the right-of-way. Trash doesn’t feel constrained by cans or bins. It’s obvious which pairs are couples because the hands are very busy and the lips are locked.

I have left the school after every trip to the office feeling alarmed at worst, dismayed at best. Once inside the building, I feel okay until I see boys with mustaches. But that brings up other issues I have with my daughter growing up. It’s emotionally safer to focus on my hatred of the high school parking lot.

I recall the biggest danger in my high school parking lot was the possibility of stepping in tobacco juice, or maybe running over someone’s books because he forgot them on the roof of his car. That was 20+ years ago in Western Colorado. A different time and certainly a different place.

What do I expect from a high school parking lot in 2011?

Is it the norm to feel like I am on a crab fishing ship with hip hop stars as I stride from my car door to the building? With every other word rhyming with buck and tuck and luck, maybe I should start sprinkling The Big One into our dinner table conversations so our daughter will feel acclimated to her new surroundings in the fall.

How is the ducking asparagus? Steamed to ducking perfection?

Much of adolescence is spent trying to out-shock the last kid. Under all the exterior swagger lurks insecurity. The kids I saw are probably good kids. The most important thing I need to remember is that I trust my daughter and that the parking lot isn’t a representation of the geometry class.

In geometry, parallel lines aren’t just suggestions.

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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson March 15, 2011

    It all starts and ends in the parking lot.

    Just asked me. I got into my first fender-bender in our high school parking lot. πŸ™‚

  • Pingback:There are boys with mustaches! « Lifenut

  • comment avatar Jessica March 15, 2011

    I live across the street from a high school here in the mountains. H.S. kids use the F-word WAY too much! I have a 10 and 6 yr old, but I don’t think they notice it yet. Summer break is more than just a vacation for my elementary school kids, it’s my break from the swear words across the street. πŸ˜‰

    I was in H.S. and I know most of the cussing is just a peer thing.

  • comment avatar JoAnn March 15, 2011

    Growing up as “a country kid,” I got to ride the bus to school. Every school day, every school year, for 13 years. (Uphill both ways?)

    It was a vocabulary learning experience from Day One. By the time I was through Elementary School I’d heard things that would make my mother pale. I know, because I asked her what some of the words meant.


  • comment avatar Jaime Swartzendruber March 15, 2011

    Ya, that just scares me. What’s even worse is those who choose that language into adulthood. I agree that some underlying insecurity is likely the source of those poor choices – maybe we need to find constructive ways to instill some leadership qualities in our youth…now all we need is some additional state funding.

  • comment avatar Lori Lavender Luz March 15, 2011

    Hmmmm….ducking asparagus for dinner — good idea.

    You’ve taken me back to my own horrors in high school. Lots of f-bombs then, too.

    But at least the boys kept the top of their pants somewhere up near their waists.

  • comment avatar edj March 15, 2011

    I can tell you it’s not just in America. I’ve lived in 3 other countries, and thanks to movies and rapstars, the f-bomb is a word in English that EVERYBODY knows and uses.

    However, as the mother of a high school sophomore (with a mustache no less; but a sweet kid underneath, albeit zitty),I can assure you that high school can be just fine.

  • comment avatar erin from swonderland March 15, 2011

    i would love to tell it will all be okay but i am the girl who is worked up and nervous about kindergarten. mustaches! oh my.

  • comment avatar Amy March 15, 2011

    Did we walk through the same parking lot? What about all those guys wearing tank tops (who were they?) riding around in broncos with the top sawed off (how was it possible?) like it was their job. What about the tension between the different groups? There was no shortage of PDA and certainly a few mustaches, not to mention mohawks, eyeliner and big bangs.

  • comment avatar Marivic Valencia March 16, 2011

    My daughters are 23, 21, 19, 19 and 5. There was a year there where I had a senior, junior, and two freshman in high school. Nightmare. While I noticed the language IS shocking at school, the kids cleaned it up when they’d come over and hang out at our house after school. My grocery bill was HUGE but worth it. Anyway, hang in there, it’s mostly survivable!

  • comment avatar adventuresinbabywearing March 17, 2011

    Oh girl, my body is going numb with a possible panic attack. But I DO know it will be ok. It always is! And I love that you have some awesome surprises ahead, ways she will totally make you proud and you’ll know she’s got this. πŸ™‚


  • comment avatar Fern March 19, 2011

    We live right by the high school, so in addition to my own kids in school, I have had years of seeing the neighborhood kids walk through my yard to get to school. My youngest graduates this year and we survived high school with both kids. I found that there was a lot of swearing in the parking lot, and a lot of “yes ma’ams” in inside the school. You are right, they are trying to shock you, but if they know the line of where and when, it is okay. I hate all the liplocking that my kids tell me about, but I have not seen it.
    Whenever our kids had a new school or new major experience/exposure to something, we talked to them about what they might come across. I remember telling my freshman son that he would hear a lot of boys bragging about sexual adventures and that most likely they would be lying about it or exaggerating. I don’t know if that was true, but I did not want him to think he should do what other boys say they are doing (whether they are or not). I also talked with both my kids about how what they saw on TV shows like Friends (and now Glee) is not how life really is.

    Good luck–you and your kids will get through these years.

    (And be prepared for loss of language skills in boys–from about age 15-17 all they do is grunt).

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