The high school lunch table is an interesting study in social relationships.
It is a time to blend with peers, whoever they may be.
I’ve had the chance to experience this as a student, a parent and a teacher.
You can take the same DNA pool, identical home environment, but when it comes to school, they can go in very diverse ways.
Because of a relocation, my children had to navigate their way into a new school community as they entered adolescence, a bigger challenge than I realized.
My daughter started high school in the 8th grade. She took up clarinet, joined marching band, participated in musical theater, joined the TV studio as news announcer. She had advanced college prep classes, took awards in art, music, journalism, creative writing, science fair, was voted into National Honor Society.
Her lunch table consisted of the “good kids”, the school leaders, achievers, teacher’s pets. Some of them were paired up, steadily dating others in their group, parting ways after graduation.
My son started here in middle school, the terror years; where the girls look 18, and the boys look 8. That creates conflict and a lot of challenge to self esteem. The silliness, sarcastic and joking nature that had gotten him through elementary school was no longer acceptable. He went silent.
By high school, it was evident in his choice of friends. His was the quiet table, the kids who were smart, but very private. They supported each other, developed lasting friendships, kept out of the spotlight. They turned to music, taught themselves guitar, formed bands that lasted into the early adult years.
It led me to think about my own history, and that of my husband. We traveled in very different groups.
I would have been at the overachiever’s table, student government geeks, newspaper editors, glee club, orchestra, academic club leaders, but socially awkward, waiting to make our break to college, getting out of town.
My husband had a steady girlfriend from age 15. He was smart, creative, science-oriented, college bound, but he was part of a couple. He was having sex.
We grew up 300 miles apart. That’s probably a good thing.
Our time would come a bit later.