- Written by Bill Levine Bill Levine
This year I am assuming that my younger son, M, will attend his 10th high school reunion, as he had both a successful and enjoyable run in high school. And probably, like all 10th reunion goers, he’ll want to show off his adult credentials.
His 10th reunion also marks a sobering milestone for me: 10 years away from my community of parents from his graduating class of 2013, a community pieced together from my son’s sports participation, his school activities, our synagogue membership, and his friends’ parents.
Finding my community sense started when my wife and I went to my son’s kindergarten back-to-school night, where I would commiserate with the other parents on the awkwardness of sitting in our kids’ classroom chairs.
Then there were the all-class spaghetti nights in the gym/cafeteria, where shoehorned picnic tables acted as social lubrication for us parents.
M’s K-4 school also offered an annual school fair as well as my favorite, the field day, where at the softball throw we cheered our kids on, hoping they would imitate a Major League centerfielder.
The parental community grew as M moved to the town-wide middle school. I had the opportunity to meet more parents from the class of 2013.
There were, of course, more back-to-school nights where, by high school, we were obligated to follow our kids’ schedule, meandering through the halls in search of elusive room numbers. I was lucky to have some parents with better navigational skills direct me to at least the right wing.
I made some parental connections from M’s bar-mitzvah-year family activities, but by eighth grade, M had abandoned Sunday school for basketball.
Indeed, his K-12 basketball pastime allowed me to join the fraternity of dads with extra sneaker expenses. It started for me quite intensely with an assistant coaching gig in the town’s third- and fourth-grade league. The coach and I have been good friends since that enjoyable year.
By sixth grade, M was playing on both in-town basketball and traveling team leagues, with most of the action on Saturday morning (in-town) and early Saturday evening (traveling).
This was then a day of parental mingling and conversation on basketball and other topics. Our basketball talk might be about the monstrous size of the rival team’s players, who we hoped were just clumsy oafs.
My best bleacher memory was the condolences that several basketball moms offered on my mother’s passing.
By eighth grade, my son started playing varsity in middle school, followed by JV and varsity in high school. The stakes in these games involved our town’s on-court prowess, so we parents gained solidarity by second-guessing the refs’ bad calls in unison. In high school games, I sat with the basketball gurus and learned insight into my son’s team’s performance.
In June 2013 there was the grad ceremony itself, an indoor event in the gym. I scanned the crowd, taking in those parents whom I was on a nod-basis with in the grocery store, to those parents I enjoyed stopping in produce to chat up for five minutes, and finally to those solid acquaintances and friends.
As happy as I was for M, it was sad for me anticipate that my K-12 community was ending in a high school gym’s bleachers, tracing back to our origin in those kindergarten seats.
It’s possible that some of my 2013 community members have left the area, or maybe our physical changes create the “you look familiar” awkward zone, so public engagements are shied away from. What we need then, in theory, is to get reacquainted via a Parents Reunion of the class of 2013.
I would suggest the reunion be held at the town’s favorite watering hole, where everyone knows your kid’s name. The food would be pizza, in homage to those quickly thrown-together weeknight meals and end-of-soccer season celebrations.
There would be a DJ spinning circa-2013 hits, plus real golden oldies to memorialize both parental and child control of the car radio.
The door prize would be free millennial expertise on electronic devices for a year from the Roku Not Haiku Collaborative.
Of course, this type of reunion won’t happen, but still, I can take more chances around town with “Hey, you look familiar” introductions.
Most importantly, I can easily postulate that the most common smile inducement at the Parent Reunion would be, “My kid successfully launched into adulthood and all I got was this t-shirt.”
Bill Levine is a retired IT professional and active freelance writer. Bill aspires to be a humorist because it is easier to be pithy than funny. He may be reached at email@example.com.