Thursday, April 1, 2010

I'll be in the Back...

I have been going to a lot of meetings this year. It's what happens when you have one child preparing for Confirmation and another preparing for First Communion. Every time there is a meeting, our religious ed. coordinator sets up two semi-circle rows of chairs. I've noticed that with very few exceptions, parents prefer to sit in the back row, rather than up front. At the last meeting, after the second row filled, parents dragged extra folding chairs over to set up behind the back row rather than take seats in the near empty front row. Eventually, there were three rows set up behind the untouchable first row!

There is something instinctively frightening about that front row. Consider all that it represents--full exposure, the front line, nowhere to hide. It's the spot where the most attention is focused. If you don't want to be called on, you hide in the back. It's human nature to want to protect yourself from harm, be it an enemy's attack or a teacher's questions. It doesn't seem like a metal folding chair would be so sheltering, but that is exactly what it is to those who sit in the second row.

There is a character in the book McBroom's Zoo by Sid Fleischman called the Great Seventeen-Toed Hairy Prairie Hidebehind. This was a creature that would follow you on tiptoe, but every time you spun around to look at it, it would still be hiding behind you. Perhaps we all have a little Great Prairie Hidebehind in us. I know I do.

Yes, I'm a second row sitter. I admit it. I'm uncomfortable in the front row. The times I've sat there I haven't been able to relax. I cross my legs, I hunch, I try not to move to avoid attracting attention. I am like a rabbit trying to hide in an open field. As a result, I'm usually stiff and tired by the end of the meeting. I prefer having that metal chair to shield me. As a homeschooling family, I feel we spend enough time in the front row. I do my best to make my family presentable to the world. I smile, I answer curious questions honestly and simply, I do my required paperwork and testing for my school district. I try not to take it personally when I see a negative article on homeschooling. Like every other homeschooler, I'm doing the best I can, knowing I've gone against the societal norm.

I think I've done my front row time, don't you?

5 comments:

call*me*kate said...

Boy, you really pegged this one! Being nearly 5'10", I've always shunned the front row for fear of blocking all those behind me. But, even if I were shorter, I'd still avoid the front row. I mean, what if I have to use the ladies' room? ALL those people will see me! Stuff like that keeps me nearer the back (much to my husband's annoyance - he's a front row guy!) But it's o.k - let someone else sit up front and get a stiff neck. Fine by me!

- Kate

Bethany, aka 40winkzzz said...

been there, done that, still do that! there is something about the front row that makes us feel too.... exposed?

Inner Elder said...

Well I've encountered plenty of empty front rows but I never heard of creating back-up rows. thank you for sharing a truly hilarious and insightful experience. Love, Mom

Arby said...

The problem with sitting in the front row is that you can't see who is shooting the spitballs!

Pamela Jorrick said...

I am much more comfortable in the back- full views and easy escape!

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