HE’S HOME FROM HIS FIRST DAY of his junior year at Faribault High School.
My 16-year-old doesn’t talk much. Prying information out of him is akin to pulling teeth. So I try really hard not to pepper him with questions. But I can’t help myself as I attempt to phrase questions that don’t require a simple “yes” or “no” answer.
Initially I fail miserably.
“How was your first day of school?” I ask.
“Good,” he says.
I follow him into the kitchen where he is downing a glass of milk. He loves milk, always has.
“What classes are you taking?”
He rattles off a list that includes AP physics, pre-calculus, chemistry, psychology, American government and computer aided drafting.
“You’re taking a lot of hard classes,” I observe.
He shrugs, doesn’t really answer. I know that for him, my scientific, mathematically-inclined, computer-oriented son, who scores way above average on those assessment tests that everyone else whines about, these classes are a perfect fit. I am glad that I am not him; I wouldn’t like, or do well, in most of his classes. I am not the science and math type.
He settles in with his laptop on a corner of the sofa while I continue working on a travel feature in my nearby office.
“They got new bathrooms,” he says, offering his first real take on his first day back at school. “And new computers.”
I rush into the living room. I’m not going to let this moment of conversational opportunity pass.
“What do you mean new bathrooms?” I ask.
“They got new walls, new toilets, doors,” he briefs me.
“They didn’t have doors?” I probe.
Not in one of the bathrooms, the one no one used, he says.
I’m dismayed at the lack of respect for students’ privacy. But I don’t tell my son that, only think it. He doesn’t particularly like his mom to have an opinion on school “stuff.”
Instead, I ask, “What kind of computers did they get?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t been in the computer lab.”
That ends our short exchange. He’s focused now on his computer screen, not really caring if I hear anything more about his first day of his junior year of high school. After all, he’s told me the important “stuff” about new computers and upgraded bathrooms with new toilets and doors.
© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling