Tuesday, August 16, 2011

1st Day of School

It's mid-August and the kids have been in school for a week already. Summer vacation as we knew it is long gone, just like a phone that plugs into a wall socket and needs a cord in more places than most students today have ever seen before. School used to end around my brother's birthday, June 22, and it always started on the Wednesday after Labor Day. That gave families time to get home from the long weekend or the whole summer, do a load of laundry and lay out school clothes before the year began.

Now, resorts can't find college-age staff to work after August 5th and it doesn't really matter because there aren't any school-age kids romping in the pool anyway. They are all dripping sweat as they walk from the bus to the classroom; air conditioning has a tough time competing with 250 little bodies opening and closing doors as rapidly as their schedules demand. .

I brought treats to the staff at Prince Elementary for a 1st Day of School LoveFest; I had to shed my colorful, Official Grandma jacket because it was just too hot. Kids were wondering why my face was wet; does anyone have a polite description of flop sweat?.

I have a hard time thinking about school without leaves changing colors in the trees. I need an excuse to wear a sweater if I'm going to be carrying books.... or asking children I love to carry them. This school year just jumped up and surprised me. I'd planned to take Messers 6 & 8 to buy backpacks and suddenly we had 2 days to do it or they'd go to school un-bedecked. .

Mr. 8, predictably, chose a licensed product. Elizabeth tagged along and chose purple with black slashes; it's mature in a child-like way and perfect for her. Mr. 6 studied the offerings, listened to the advice flung his way, learned about another section of backpacks somewhere over by furniture and told us that if he didn't find anything there then I will get this plaid one which he did. Six years old and he's already learned to avoid mass marketing and trust what pleases his eye. I do love that little boy.

I haven't noticed much of an up-tick in traffic on the roads, which is surprising. School buses and soccer practice carpools usually take up a lot of space on our streets. Perhaps people are avoiding my construction plagued neighborhood. or perhaps I've learned, over the last 5 years, to avoid bus routes and traveling between 2 and 3:30 in the afternoon when dismissal and after-school activities make the roads an impassable nightmare. Or perhaps I'm just more mellow and am not as bothered by traffic as I've been in the past. .

So much else in my life has changed, why not my road rage as well?.

Amster's kids are taking the bus to school, which would be a good plan if the bus driver remembered to stop and pick them up. The kids giggled and Amster seethed as she followed the bus to school the 2nd morning of classes. The driver had picked up Elizabeth an hour before.... she was paying for the service.... this was unacceptable....her boys will certainly know how to argue their point as they grow up..

And that's really the point about the first day of school - the grown-ups are modeling appropriate behaviors for the kids (one can hope) and the kids are (without a doubt) soaking it all in. School is a rite of passage. Everyone has started as a new kid. Frantic mornings and tearful goodbyes and late arrivals and solemn handshakes - I saw them all at Prince last week as I remembered them from my past and from the Cuter's more recent experiences..

I remembered waiting for the bus in my yellow dress with my name-tag pinned to my right breast - kindergarten was going to be great. I remember walking around the corner to the high school, my bangs scotch taped to my forehead because of course it was humid on the first day of 10th grade and my normally straight-to-my-eyebrows bangs were curling up to my center part. I remember walking across acres of grass and bridges and more grass and entering a lecture hall and turning down the attached-to-the-chair-desk and realizing that I was in college and it was very very cool. I remember walking into the first meeting of the School of Social Service Administration's Class of 1975 at the University of Chicago and recognizing that there were 5 people with pony-tails and denim overalls sitting in the last row and that they would be my friends for life..

The first day of school marks the end and the beginning and it's more than a meme or a theme or a recurring nightmare. It's part of the American paradigm. I hope you and yours had/have a good one.


  1. Even at my advanced age, when it gets to be September, I feel the urge to go back to school. For no particular reason, I find myself wandering down the aisle of a store, Target, Walmart, which ever and I realize I'm in the school supplies. And I don't want to leave...I want to buy all of the things I always used to buy. I loved school and I still love the feeling I get from thinking about it!

  2. I am assuming that the 1975 school start was with you as the teacher since we are about the same age? I waited until 1989 to walk into class as the teacher, taking a few years for a different career. This time of the year always brings that feeling of anticipation, whether as the student or as the teacher. And, I love to buy new school supplies, whether returning to the classroom or not.

  3. My kids don't actually go back to school until the 29th. It's the first time our county has gone before Labor Day. I'm not sure which parents they talked with, but I would have preferred they kept it after Labor Day. We are off on vacation for ten lovely days in Florida. :)

    Going back to school makes me sad 'cause it reminds me of how much I miss school and because my kids are getting bigger. :(

    Sending a virtual hug.

    Megan xxx


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