My son and I toured a potential school for him recently. I had been trying to prepare him in the days leading up to the tour and took another swing at it about an hour before we left.
“What questions do you have for the school counselor?”
“I don’t think you’ll be able to make a great decision without more information about this school. Let’s think of some questions.”
“Do they have to take showers after PE? Do I have to wear a gym uniform? Can I wear my shorts to PE or do I have to change them? How big is their gym?”
Wow. Bottom line for this kid: All that matters is that he can go to PE year round.
“You know, I’m not sure how much PE will prepare you for a career once you’re done with school.” I was starting to sound like my parents.
“Do they have recess? How long will I get to eat lunch?”
We arrived at the school at our scheduled time and he decided to wear his mask. He really wears it everywhere, even on individual outings with his mentor. Normally it’s fine, except that he already speaks quietly when he’s not in a shouting match with his friends during video games and so the mask makes him impossible to understand.
“Blurgh fum ruf foo worpurun moor?” He asked as we pulled up, driving into the school entrance going the wrong way, per the counselor’s instructions. I turned and glared at him. He pulled down his mask.
“Can we go in another door? There are too many kids at that door.”
Buddy, get used to it. The seventh grade here is about 6 times bigger than your current class. We trudged into the school, announced our arrival, and waited for the counselor. All the staff in the office lobby had little signs on the edge of their desks saying “Yo hablo Espanol.” The woman we checked in with tried to make conversation with Noah.
“What’s your name?”
“What grade will you be in next fall?”
She smiled, she was so nice and trying so hard. I really admire school staff everywhere I go these days. They are certainly a lot friendlier and try a lot harder than I remember back when I was in school. The counselor came out and introduced herself to us and we started the tour.
The first thing we passed were lockers. Which I knew was a criteria for Noah. If a school had lockers, he was already partially won over. Lockers and year-round PE pretty much sealed the deal. Jerry Maguire – you had me at hello. Noah had probably already decided he wanted to go to this school less than 60 seconds into the tour. We were both impressed by the size of the school. He was certainly going to get his steps in. The highlights of the tour were the band room and woodshop. The band room was more of a highlight for me.
“Is he interested in band? What instrument does he play?” The counselor and band teacher looked at us, curious. I did the very thing I’ve been trying not to do lately and spoke on Noah’s behalf.
“He has an expensive trumpet at home so he’s interested and he’s going to join band.” Wow. I’m awesome. Noah smiled under his mask. Yup. I just committed 50% of his available electives time. In woodshop they were making miniature pool tables and Noah decided then and there that woodshop was going to be an elective for him. We finally made our way back up to the office where we passed two eighth graders. A cheerful girl in a gym uniform and a boy wearing a black hoodie that read “I love hot moms.” I was already making a list of people in my life that I could get that sweatshirt for as a joke. I laughed out loud. The counselor smiled and gave me a sheepish look. “We have to choose our battles here.”
By the time we left, Noah felt pretty certain that this was his future school. I even felt some peace about it. He even managed to ask his question about showers after gym, to which the counselor responded that the showers are currently storage for tables and they use lots of deodorant there. Sure, it was going to add about half hour to my already long drive time every morning, but it seemed worth it, year-round PE and all. Unfortunately, he wasn’t feeling well by the end of the tour so we went home and he stayed in his room all day, doing origami. I had a snake in a box, a parrot, and two cell phone holders made by the end of the day. Sweet.