When I was a younger, Open House was the night in September that your mom or dad went to school. They got to see your work and where you sat and most importantly they got to talk to your teacher and find out whether or not she liked you. When they came home, they would say things like "Missus Robinson thinks you're neat" or "Mister Jones says you're a great student." Open House was nothing like those November conferences, where your parents came home with talk of homework and detention. Yes, Open House was exciting the way it would be if Earth and Mars were suddenly pulled together. Clash! Kaboom! Two worlds collide.

When I was a little older, Open House was the night in September that your mom or dad skipped, because they knew all your teachers and weren't going to see anything done by you, anyway. They couldn't possibly look at another boring syllabus, so they just stayed home. Open House was a mythical event, held for the goody-goodies and the new kids who had to get the scoop on every teacher in the building. Moms gossipped, Dads tried hard to fit into the desks. No thanks, they'll get the whole spiel at their conference in November.

Now Open House is where I am introduced to those moms and dads. Questions about students' study habits, personality and genetics are all answered in one quick night just by watching their parents come through my room. I take 6 minutes of their time, quickly telling them in a too-small nutshell what this class is about and then pushing them out the door while they ask me hurried questions about little Susie's trouble last year or how Johnny's just so excited to be there.

I have come full circle. I sit and wait, excited to have finally met Mars, and hope that tomorrow the students will come back and say things like "My mom thinks you're neat" or "My dad says you're a great teacher."

Clash, kaboom, bring on November conferences.

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