Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fast times. Or, "See you next Wednesday, unless it's sunny, Mrs. Burke".

The last time I was in a high school cafeteria you can bet two things: I was likely stoned on my brother's homegrown. And, I was more than likely scarfing back a muffin before the first bell rang – or, just before I hitchhiked back home to ski.

My attendance at the little bastard's high school orientation this week brought forth a bile-laced backpack of emotions about my own brief, disastrous dalliance with high school. Let's just say I wasn't on Student Council.

A post-divorce twist of fate found my brother, my mother, and me, transplanted to our ski chalet in Canada – light years away from the middle-class suburban American enclave where I grew up. Before it all imploded, I was a relatively normal, straight-A student and athlete. I was even a fucking cheerleader. My father returned to the States to begin his new life – or as it felt at the time – his new life without me.

On a typical morning in our new life, shortly after missing the bus, fellow teenaged urban refugees would pile into our 1966 Mustang convertible and drive the 12 or so miles to school. It's amazing how much dope you can smoke in 12 miles. We'd fall into the school parking lot in a cloud of smoke, laughing like idiots, ready to face the day. Or not.

A few years ago, I ran into Doris Burke, my old homeroom teacher. She reminded me that I would often arrive for attendance, only to disappear before first class. Mrs. Burke died a few years ago, so it's a bit late for an apology – or an explanation. Besides, how do you explain lost?

The shift in education systems had me skipping a grade, immediately upon arrival in rural Georgian Bay, which is why I was only 15 when I was eventually dragged to the Principal's office, and kicked to the academic curb. I had a 92% average – with a major in Bucking Authority – but as my beloved English teacher Jack Morgan told the truancy committee, I just didn't belong there.

Years have blown by to find me sitting in my child's orientation this week, realizing I still don't feel as if I belong anywhere. And since when was Yoga a credit course?

Pass the bong.

Tonight, Dr. Gabor Maté will be speaking about Hold on to Your Kids: Why parents need to matter more than peers. This lecture will take place at the McNally Theatre Auditorium at St. Mary's University. I may fire up the hot knives and go.

While I eventually managed to get myself to university – and graduate – most of my adult life has been spent wondering how my parents could let a child fall through the cracks so violently. I still grapple with forgiveness. And I still feel robbed. I never got to throw up on my prom dress, or play Varsity anything. Captain of the Havoc team didn't make yearbook.

Suffice it to say the little bastard is paying my dues – or their dues. His world is packed with love, bedtimes, a rabid drug/alcohol sniffing dog, more love, and zero tolerance for the stereotypical, teenage asshole attitude – often at the expense of my own happiness. Isn't that what parenting is? I wouldn't know.

What I do know, is I would throw myself in front of a school bus before I would allow my child miss out on a normal, happy, high school experience. If there is such a thing.

I guess we'll find out.

For tickets to Hold on to Your Kids, call the Sacred Heart School of Halifax at 422-4459. $10 per person in advance or $15.00 at the door. This event is sponsored by A.C.I.S.
For more information on the good Doc go to: