My husband is the one who usually does this, but the other day, I had the opportunity to go pick up my stepson, a 9th grader, for the weekend. As we headed out, Corin asked, “Do you want me to tell you some stories from my high school?”
On the hour-long ride from his mother’s house to ours, he regaled me with a number of humorous and horrifying yarns that vividly reminded me what a unique experience it is to attend high school and of the bountiful, varied, profound life lessons I’d been taught back in the day at Myrtle Beach High.
It was there I learned firsthand about tyranny, injustice, the high price of nonconformity, and man’s inhumanity to man. And that was just in first-period gym class.
Where, if not in high school, would I ever have mastered the formulation of a perfect, five-paragraph AP exam essay in 45 minutes or less (writing a fully-fleshed out research paper, not so much)? Where would I have honed my fiction writing techniques if not while fabricating science fair projects?
Where else but high school would I have learned that cheerleaders and football players rule the world? Or that wearing a skirt less than four inches above the knee means not that you’d had a growth spurt and limited funds for new clothing but that you were a harlot not fit to be seen in public?
But the single most important thing I learned in high school–the thing I have returned to time and again, even more frequently than trigonometry or covalent bonds or the rich symbolism of Tess of the d’Urbervilles— is how to sew buttons onto things, which I was taught in home economics.
I cannot even begin to tell you how many outfits I’ve saved due to this life skill, how many wardrobe malfunctions averted, how many thrift store purchases I made despite missing buttons, confident in my ability to return the garments to wearable condition.
It truly boggles the mind.
I must give eternal thanks to my home ec teacher who imparted this critical skill. I can’t remember her name at the moment, but I do know that she was the first person ever to tell me I had good hand-eye coordination (I asked her to please go repeat that to the gym teachers, but she never would), and her lessons were truly life-changing.