The Joy of No Longer Having a Child in High School

Currently my social media news feeds are resplendent with something called “Senior Sunday.” Just to be clear this is not a salute to grandparents or anyone eligible for Medicare. So, if you’re 65 and older and are now excited for a Facebook or Instagram shout out I suggest you immediately adjust your expectations.

This is because “Senior Sunday” is focused on a much younger demographic. It’s designed as an opportunity for moms and dads to lovingly highlight their high school seniors and, at times, get emotional that the K-12 journey is coming to an end for both the child and the parents.

I’ll admit to getting a little sentimental reading what some parents post. Between the love and praise for their child there’s also a hint of sadness about this chapter of parenthood ending. This is why I feel duty bound as a seasoned empty nester to share a few of the wonderful things that no longer having a child in high school brings.

Coming in with a great big “yippee” is the sweet, sweet freedom from all the high school emails. Your inbox will literally be reduced by at least 25 percent. This means no more “flyers” about the upcoming spirit wear sale and alerts about band concerts, foreign language fetes and the football booster club fundraiser. 

And it’s not just your inbox that’s going to be getting a break your parental psyche will be as well. Primarily because you won’t be reading these emails and thinking to yourself, should I get more involved or worse, why isn’t my kid padding his high school resume with a stint as co-corresponding secretary of the chess club?

Another wonderful thing about being finished with the high school experience is no more communal parent teacher conferences in the gym. An experience that can best be described as speed dating at a Chuck E Cheese while having your privacy concerns tossed in the ball pit.

This is because nothing says violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) like waiting in line with a gaggle of parents to talk with your kid’s teachers as you all try (unsuccessfully) not to eavesdrop on the other conferences going on around you. Also not helping is your kid’s English teacher using an hourglass last seen on the soap “Days of Our Lives” to time your “conference.”

Now this next hip hip hooray might just be my own personal weirdness but oh how I relish no longer having to be a part of the parent paparazzi taking hundreds of homecoming, sweetheart dance and prom pictures. It’s not that I don’t love taking photos of my children at special events, it’s just that I prefer the old school way. And by that, I mean taking the pictures at home.

Somehow photos for these events got turned into a mass outing where throngs of kids and their parents trek off to a scenic location (sometimes 30 minutes away) and take literally hundreds of pictures. I’ve worked the Oscars awards ceremony as a reporter and honestly there were less “photographers” in attendance.

The absolute best thing, I’m talking delirious joy, about having a high school graduate is breaking free from the shackles of competitive parenting. You no longer have to listen to, fret over or seethe when some parents turn every conversation, school volunteer encounter, or parent paparazzi moment into a brag-a-thon sermon about their child.

Sure, once your kid is grown and flown you might have a chance encounter at the grocery store with a hyper bragger but that’s what the frozen food section is for – hiding from people. So, just stick your head inside the ice cream freezer and count your blessings. Your kid graduated and now the sky’s the limit for your child and you.