It’s been nearly three decades since I graduated from high school, but October still means homecoming to me. That’s because it’s the month of my annual get-together with my high school girlfriends. The ten of us live all over the country, but once a year we have a standing appointment for a ladies-only weekend of relaxing and catching up.
Just because we leave the husbands and kids behind doesn’t mean they aren’t on our minds. In fact, many of us have teenagers of our own now, which leads to plenty of conversations about how much high school has changed in the past 30 years.
For example, two years ago, we were in Charleston, South Carolina, reminiscing about the good old days of the 1980’s when a text from my daughter abruptly brought us back to the strange new ways of the 2010’s. Her homecoming was just around the corner, which included all the things you might expect – a pep rally, football game and formal dance – along with something rather unexpected: a letter from the principal regarding “…a major challenge facing high school administrators across the country.”
Can you guess what the major challenge could be? It’s not drinking. It’s not drugs. It’s not even cyberbullying. When it comes to homecoming, the biggest issue these days is…inappropriate dancing. Yep, you read that correctly. Inappropriate dancing. And in case there was any misunderstanding, the letter went on to describe the problem in excruciating detail. There were half a dozen words in quotation marks in the first paragraph alone, including “twerking,” “freaking” and “grinding.” Not only that, but students and parents were also required to sign a dance contract indicating that they understood there would be “no straddling legs with partner” and “no multiple student freak dancing” allowed.
Whaaat?!? My friends and I shared a moment of stunned silence…followed by at least half an hour of uncontrolled hysterical laughter. Don’t judge. I think we might have temporarily regressed to our teenage selves. Or maybe we just became giddy at the thought of only worrying about dancing, instead of all the other things we parents usually worry about.
You’d think that technology would have made worry obsolete by now. After all, we have the ability to monitor our kids’ locations, grades, online activity and communication. But sometimes it feels like all that information only brings us more anxiety. Without exactly intending to, we’ve given ourselves a front row seat for each and every GPA fluctuation, friend group drama and dubious Instagram post, and we just can’t help but get involved.
You see why we need the occasional weekend away, right?
Our parents found out how we were doing in school when report cards came home. Once in a while, they caught part of a telephone conversation (despite our efforts to stretch that kitchen phone cord around the corner and all the way down the hall!) And on Saturday nights, they waved goodbye and reminded us to be home by curfew with no way of knowing where we were going or what we were doing. How did they do it?
One of my friends shrugged and said, “My parents knew all of you and knew all of your parents and they trusted us, so they never worried about me.”
With no high-tech ways to ensure our safety, our parents simply counted on us to look out for each other. And you what? We did. And we’re still at it. Through the years, we’ve congratulated each other on graduations and promotions. We’ve celebrated weddings and babies. And we’ve been there when serious illnesses have threatened, when marriages have ended and when parents have passed on.
High school will always be full of major challenges, just like the rest of life. But something tells me that with the support of good friends, our kids will be more than ready to face whatever dangers lurk online, on the street or even – God forbid – on the dance floor.
Love you ladies and hope to see you next year!