How my life changed when my daughter went to high school

The first year in high school means getting slammed with papers, deadlines and meetings.

Oh yeah—my freshman daughter has it pretty busy, too. 

Whenever I’m asked how Kalia is adjusting to high school, I readily say “Great.” She’s in the International Baccalaureate program, already is earning college credit in Spanish, likes her teachers, has new friends, and even made the volleyball team. 

But then I start to describe how it’s hard to keep track of all the activities associated with high school, and it becomes obvious that I’m no longer talking about Kalia. 

We’re the ones who have to squeeze back-to-school meetings into our schedules. We’re the ones who fill out endless forms. We’re the ones who have to know what time her practices end on any particular day. We’re the ones who have to be careful not to schedule any weekend adventures that, heaven forbid, overlap with any of the parties and other social activities planned by her friends.

Our kitchen calendar has become a lot more complicated and messy lately.

And don’t get me started on all the fees that apparently now are part of a free public education.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad to pay the fees associated with an amazing high school experience. For instance, I think it’s pretty cool that a $50 fee gets her a laptop computer. 

I truly am appreciative that Kalia is in a great school, where I know the teachers and staff are dedicated to the students. 

I think back to my own high school experience, where I had some pretty awesome teachers, too. 

The biggest difference now, though, I think is the level of involvement of parents. 

I don’t think my parents ever met any of my teachers. (I even had to check with my sister, who’s nine years older than me, to see if maybe I was misremembering that. She didn’t recall our parents coming to her high school, either. She thinks it was just a different era–kids were much more independent and could roam around even in a big city with little worry.)

Back then, I told my parents what high school I was going to attend – it was my choice. But then I had to figure out everything on my own – from what classes to take to how to get to school. Living in a big city, I had to figure out which city bus would get me there on time. My parents never once drove me.

I try to explain to Kalia about the importance of being more independent. Certainly not relying on us to take her everywhere would be a good start.

A Transfort bus stops a block from our house. It will drop her off about three blocks from her school. Not bad. I’ve suggested a few times that we try it out instead of having me drive her every morning. But she won’t have it. Oh, we did try it once. She conveniently walked so slow to the bus stop–despite my repeated urgings to pick up the pace–that we missed the bus.

No doubt, Kalia likes sleeping the extra hour. (Buses come only once an hour here–not every 10 minutes as in a big city.) 

She also likes, I’m sure, the door-to-door chauffeured service. I must admit, I’d like that, too.

Kris Kodrich teaches journalism at Colorado State University.