9021-Uh-Oh: Back-to-School Time Dredges Up Forgotten Anxieties

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The start of each academic year still manages to dredge up feelings of anxiety, social insecurities and hopes of proper time management. And I’m not a student nor a teacher.

More years than I care to believe have passed since I actually attended high school, or college. I am now a parent. I walk my child into the classroom, get to know their peers and try to learn each teacher’s preferences.

The anxiety every September brings is curious. Who would have anticipated analyzing other children, putting them under a virtual flood light to scrutinize as possible friends or potential bad influences. I didn’t know my kids’ homework would necessitate me keeping my own set of supplies to restock mysteriously vanishing scissors, glue sticks, crayons and reams of lined paper. I never pictured wondering whether another mom would talk to me on the yard or ask me to volunteer on a project.

I thought I had let go of these insecurities.

Back when the original 90210 was on and Dylan was choosing between Brenda and Kelly, I was a staunch underachiever and kept to the periphery of the social scene. I wasn’t interested in the typical post-Friday night football game party. I more of the Janeane Garofalo or Daria type. At the time I wasn’t very self-aware. Looking back, there were plenty of decent and smart kids at my school that I never bothered to connect with.

I am sure they are now all doing well, perhaps even achieving some sort of greatness or notoriety. If I saw one of these guys now, I might be tempted to offer an apology or two–my priorities as an adult have finally caught up to what they valued as when we were all teenagers. Irony.

Even though I’ve developed serious time management skills and have opened up and connected to many wonderful friends, the old hang-ups still haunt me. The beginning of my kids’ school year always hits me the same way. And, surprisingly, I’m not alone. I mentioned how odd it felt to have these feelings to a friend. She responded in kind, saying that she too gets a pit in her stomach during the first weeks of school. Since then I have asked other parents if the resurfacing of insecurities resonates, and it’s been chorus of, “me too!”

It’s not just going back vicariously through out kids; being even a peripherally involved parent is essentially high school revisited. Even though we are the parents, we are once again swimming with a group and trying to connect with each other in some meaningful way. This time I intend to act more calmly, to not procrastinate, to be welcoming in my actions and kind with my words.

As if to remind of how it went the first time, 90210 is back on the air, ever a backdrop to my high school insecurities.

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