I hurry to the middle school’s auxiliary gym; I’m right on time, but still don’t want to be late. I take big, quick steps, not wanting to miss one moment of my fifteen-minute appointment. As I scurry there trying to dodge the rain, I see the sign on the outside of the building: High School Transition. My head spins. Questioning. Transition. That’s not quite the right word. It seems to imply a passage of time, something that we’re preparing for and processing through. A gateway, if you will. But this is too abrupt, too soon.
I step inside to the check-in table. The gym is decorated cheerfully with scores of round tables nicely covered with green tablecloths. It feels peaceful and pleasant; it has the delightful charm of a Mother’s Day tea. I sit and wait for my eighth-grade son. We’re here to go over his freshman schedule; he’ll register for classes online right after. He checks-in and sits beside me as we wait for his appointment. The joy-filled laughter of his remarkable counselor lightens the air. His baseball coach from four years ago (one of the high school counselors) offers a good-natured greeting. His English teacher waves.
We make our way to our table. It feels formal, BIG. I try to focus. His science teacher—who sits across on the right—the Present. The affable blonde assistant principal from the high school—who sits across on the left—the Future. They shake our hands, so welcoming and warm, with smiles that convey knowing assuredness. They are kind, attentive, friendly. It’s going to be OK, their faces seem to say.
I try to listen; speak intelligently I tell myself. They hand over printed pages of his grades and state-test results: his “middle school career” summary is placed on the table before me. They may say words like “future” and “success”—but once again, my head is spinning. “He’s worked hard,” is all I can think to say, surprised my voice doesn’t crack.
They are talking to him, engaging him, asking him thought-provoking questions. His interests. His hopes. While I am part of the conversation, I feel myself consciously fade into the background a little bit. It’s high school. That’s what it’s time to do.
As they look over his schedule and we talk about the next steps, I am keenly aware of him—this individual, this young man, who chats politely directly to my left—and I see so much of the Past.
And I understand that that’s how it’s beginning, and eventually how it will come to pass, this momentous High School Transition: with Past, Present and Future sitting down at a table together in the middle-school gymnasium, with mom taking a subtle, ever so slight—maybe even undetected by the outside world—step into the background.