Moves to head of class with failing grades
You know, ever since Kyle entered high school three years ago, I’ve had passing thoughts of what it must be like to be a teenager these days.
I mean, as I see him maneuvering the process so effortlessly, it occurs to me every now and again that this talent of his might be a recessive trait.
In other words, if I had to be a student in high school in 2017, could I hack it? Hmm. This past week, I had the chance to find out — sorta.
Last Wednesday morning, I headed out of the house with all the hope and excitement and fear and anticipation and eagerness and butterflies of a first day of high-schooler. I’d been asked to speak to the sophomore Honors English classes that day, explaining the important role of grammar, the power of words and the significance of communication in both the business world and in life in general.
As a communications director and a longtime newspaper columnist, I felt pressure to underscore the value of both English and writing / communications as essential life skills. As a good friend to Jen, the teacher, I felt pressure (not from her; self-imposed!) to validate her choice of lecturer.
As the mother of a junior at that high school, I felt pressure to not entirely embarrass him … or, you know, his mother.
And submerged under that big pot of pressure in my nervous haste, I forgot one of my bags and had to turn around and run back home before I even arrived. Jen was entirely forgiving as she smiled warmly and told me not to fret being a few minutes late.
Tardy already. Detention No. 1.
I walked into her room almost on air, I was so excited to get started on my “lesson plan.” Darned if she hadn’t sweetly scrawled, “Welcome, Mrs. Kimerer!” on the blackboard in big, yellow and perfectly written cursive form.
Mrs. Kimerer — gulp!
My mind immediately conjured the face of my late mother-in-law, Evon. For more than 20 years, students throughout the Ellsworth Elementary School called HER Mrs. Kimerer … and they loved her. Dearly. A tough act to follow. Aw, man, more pressure. I gotta live up to her high bar.
Breathe, Mrs. Kimerer.
Next, I strode right over to the Smart TV system to load my presentation and call up the websites I wanted to share with the students and suddenly I wasn’t walking on air anymore. It was more like Donkey in “Shrek” when the magic pixie dust wears off and he can’t fly anymore. THUD and SPLAT.
Not only did I screw it up in front of the very keen teens in first period, but second, too. OK fine, part of third, as well.
Detention No. 2. Sigh.
Things were looking up as I waxed philosophical about people judging us on the way we speak, nonverbally communicate and our overall ability to connect as intellectuals. Words matter — BAM. Eyes glistened, ears perked and heads nodded.
I could almost see Mom Kimerer smiling.
And then it happened. Fifth period fail. Somebody nodded off on me.
Detention No. 3. Hmpf.
Suddenly, I was a pimple-faced, braces-mouthed freshman whose face got cut in half in the yearbook photo. Dang it.
Then suddenly, just as I was about to hide in my locker, it happened. A student came back after one of the earlier periods to ask me a question and tell me how much he liked my presentation.
WOOT, WOOT! Thank you, Jen and really sweet, smart Honors English students for the best day I’ve had in a very long time.
Looks like I ended up with a seat at the cool kids lunch table after all.
Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist and 48-year-old businesswoman with the insecurities of high school freshman. Reassure her that she’s cool via www.patriciakimerer.com