The Halls of High School

When we moved into our current house, the hubs told me that one of the things he’d really like to do here is build a backyard skating rink for the boys. We have a large flat concrete deck that’s partly surrounded by a retaining wall, so for the past few weekends, he has been busy building a frame, covering it with tarps, and repeatedly flooding the surface.

It’s been very cold for the past few weeks — great for setting ice, but less so for skating with young kids.

But last weekend, with the weather set to reach into the balmy minus single digits (you know you’re Canadian when …), we decided to host a skating party.

The hubs has a breakfast group he meets with once a week. They have social events too, but we can only rarely attend these because they aren’t kid-friendly and babysitting is always hard to come-by.  Let’s do a family social! We thought.

We put together an event page online, invited the group, and waited …

And waited …

A few maybes.

A few can’t attends.

We extended the time frame into the afternoon for people who had morning commitments.

Still nothing.

Finally, with two days to go, we wondered whether to just scrap the whole idea.

I could tell the hubs was disappointed. He’d built a great rink and I knew he’d been looking forward to showing his off his sweet boys.

What bothered him most wasn’t that so few people were interested in coming, it was that so few even bothered to reply. “It’s like being back in high school,” he remarked.

I knew what he meant. Sometimes, it seems we never really leave.

If you were one of those kids who never quite fit, who was never really part of that in-crowd, it doesn’t matter whether you’re successful in your career, have a wonderful family, or got a dozen letters after your name, the chances are you’ll probably always feel like a bit of an outsider.

Judging from the numbers of books and articles I’ve seen on finding “mom-friends” or cultivating your “tribe”, friendships and social lives are just as big of a challenge after high school.

When we’re no longer forced into close contact by the school system, we have to look long and hard for other ways to find and meet friends. For some it’s through sports or clubs, for others its through work.

With the inevitable isolation of parenthood, going to the park with your kids can almost feel like speed dating for “mom-friends”; how do you feel about play-dates? what are top philosophies of child-rearing? do you agree or disagree that this parenting gig is less smiles and sunshine and much more cleaning-up of bodily fluids than you were anticipating?

But even if you do find yourself some great grown-up friends, all it takes is one PTA meeting, one kid’s birthday party, or one networking group social to make you feel like you’ve landed right back in the pine-sol scented halls, wearing the wrong jeans and talking too quickly.

Movies like us to believe that the popular kids in high school are always arrogant jerks, or shallow bubbleheads who deserve their adult comeuppances in the form of receding hairlines and dead-end jobs. But in reality, those charming, friendly, confident kids who were the valedictorians and class presidents often become … charming, friendly, confident adults. People who we like to be around. People who have the innate interpersonal skills to be leaders and organizers.

And those of us who struggle to fit in, while we might find ways to cope with or offset our chronic awkwardness, our knowledge of our socially-awkward tendencies remains ever-present, lingering just below the surface of this veneer of adulthood.

But we are adults, even if we don’t always feel like it. 

So although we were only expecting a half dozen people, the hubs and decided to keep going with the party. I’d already been baking for most of the week, so all that was left to do was make batches of pancakes and hot chocolate, and strap on the skates.

Soon the garden was filled with shrieks of delight as kids skated or sledded in the company of three very bouncy dogs. Hot chocolate cups were filled, spilled and re-filled.

By the time we put our pink-cheeked and thoroughly exhausted children down for a rest, the hubs was smiling again.

That went pretty well? I ventured

Yeah, I think so.

Still upset? Still feel like a high school kid?

No. And if I’d had you by my side in high school, I would never have cared about anyone else.



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1 comment

  1. That is the sweetest comment ever!

    And yes to the high school thing. I’m hosting book club at my house tonight and madly cleaning and decluttering because these other women in it seem to have things so much more together than I do and I don’t want to be the odd one out with my messy house and my messy life. So I don’t think the wanting to fit in bit ever really leaves you.

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