My youngest child is now a senior in high school. How did this happen, people? The night before school started, I was indulging in some nostalgia, looking at old back-to-school blog post pictures and showing them to North. They thought I was gathering them to make a Facebook post and while that wasn’t my intention, once they said it, it seemed like a good idea. So, the next morning after I took the traditional photo by the front gate, I posted sixteen of them, starting with my tiny two year old about to start nursery school and ending with the one I just took. (The only photo not by the gate was ninth grade, the year school was mostly online. That picture is of them in their pajamas, sitting at a card table with a laptop in the dining room.)
But I am getting a little ahead of myself. On Saturday Beth and North went to the optometrist to pick out frames. We found out right before North left for camp that they need glasses and we were hoping to get them before school started, but there was an unanticipated hurdle with the insurance, so there was a delay. We’re hoping that if eyestrain has been contributing to North’s increased migraines, wearing glasses might help. Both Beth and North picked out frames and apparently while they did so, North made comments like, “These are too much like Mommy’s” or “These are too much like Grandmom’s.”
On Sunday morning North completed the last half hour of the agreed-upon time for working on the summer math homework. In a little over three hours, they got about a third of the way through it. Their reward was Sweet Frog. Actually, it was unrelated– we always have ice cream or frozen yogurt on the last day of summer break. We went mid-afternoon, in case of a headache, but they didn’t get one, so we all had dinner together (a tofu-tomato-basil stew Beth made) and watched a couple episodes of Blackish. Over the weekend North had been cleaning out their binder from last year, getting school supplies together, and preparing their breakfast and lunch for the first day, so there was no rush to get things together that night.
North has an abbreviated schedule this year, five classes instead of seven, and their counselor arranged it so that they don’t have a first or second period class. This is partly a mental health accommodation and partly a migraine one, because in tenth grade and the first quarter of eleventh, they were getting a lot of morning migraines, and these ended when they stopped getting up early to go to school and were better rested.
They’re taking AP Lit, Myth and Modern Culture, IB Applications of Math, computer science, and Ceramics III. They are a little nervous about that last one because they never took Ceramics II and had Ceramics I during the pandemic when it became more of a sculpture-with-found-materials class, but there was no way to fit Ceramics II into their schedule. Otherwise, they got all the classes they asked for, which is not bad considering the counselor had only five slots to manipulate.
On Monday morning, a little before eight, North was ready to go the Ride-On bus stop in front of our house in order to arrive at school at nine-thirty. Last semester when North only had afternoon classes, Beth drove them to and from school, but she’s not able to do that this year, so North will be getting there themselves on public transportation. Their route involves two buses and the Metro. They are still fine-tuning exactly when they need to leave.
I took the picture at the gate and while I was doing it, Noah came out on the porch to wish North a good day. Beth was out on her walk, but she got home before the bus arrived, so she was able to say goodbye, too. North got to school in plenty of time and then because of a suspected gas leak and evacuation which happened before they arrived, classes were shortened, and they had an even longer wait for third period than anticipated.
They took the school bus home, arriving around three-thirty. They gave a brief report about their classes. In case you were wondering, the math teacher made no mention of the summer homework, so North thinks it was voluntary. Speaking of homework, they didn’t have any that night and they went to bed with a headache around 4:50. They tried one of the new rescue medications for the first time. They say it’s not as good as the really effective one, but better than the least effective one. They were able to come to the dinner table, though they didn’t want to eat much, and to stay awake until 9:15.
The second day of school was strangely similar to the first. There was a shelter in place, again before they arrived, because of a “disturbance” in the neighborhood. North said it was a false report of a shooting. They had a little homework in their Lit class, creating a get-to-know-you infographic, and they got a headache again, at the same time, and again came to the table, but didn’t eat much. This was kind of a shame because I’d let them choose dinners for the first three days of the week. It was broccoli-cheddar soup on Monday and black bean soup on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Noah had a little work with Mike, a family friend and local filmmaker who often employs him for short-term jobs. They were filming a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a solar panel installation at a warehouse in Baltimore and getting drone footage of the panels. Mike took him out to lunch afterward, so he was gone from early morning until early afternoon. Mike might end up needing him to edit the footage, but that’s up in the air (no pun intended). Noah hasn’t heard back from any of the jobs he’s applied for, so it’s good he has an occasional side hustle.
Soon after Noah got home, Beth and I left to pick North up at school and go to family therapy. On the way home, North got another migraine and tried the second new medication they’d been prescribed and found it did nothing, so they went back to the mildly effective one they’d used Monday and Tuesday—they are allowed to mix them– and went to bed. They got up for dinner and I was glad they were able to eat some carrots and most of the broccoli-cheddar-quinoa patties I’d served them, but they went back to bed afterward, only emerging briefly to make their breakfast and lunch for the next day after I’d finished the dishes.
Thursday after school there was a kickoff meeting for the theater program, with information about the fall play, Cappies, and improv. We had a psychiatrist appointment late that same afternoon and as we weren’t sure how long the theater meeting would last, we rescheduled it, unnecessarily as it turned out, but North wanted to be able to stay for the whole thing if it ran long.
Friday was Senior Sunrise. There’s a tradition at North’s school (and some other area high schools) of the seniors having a sunrise picnic at the beginning of the school year and a sunset one at the end. The event started at six a.m., so Beth and North were up before the sun. North wanted coffee and Starbucks isn’t open before six, so they stopped at a Dunkin’ Donuts. North said the sunrise itself was “underwhelming” but the spread of fruit salad, doughnuts, and muffins was nice. They said they kind of wished they’d brought a blanket because the AstroTurf of the football field was damp with dew, but then when they didn’t have to lug a blanket to all their classes, they were kind of glad they hadn’t brought one. Since they were at school for first and second period, they sat at the picnic tables outside the school and did English homework.
North’s got one week of senior year under their belt, but there’s one more back-to-school festivity to come. There’s a long retaining wall along the parking lot of North’s school and every year it’s painted white, and during the second week of school, the seniors paint their names on it in red or blue. The names stay there for the duration of the year and the next summer. The painting will take place next Friday during lunch. It’s a nice tradition and a reminder that all the students who pass through the school leave their marks. It’s time to find out what North’s mark will be.