Saturday, September 9, 2017

Back to School

It’s back-to-school time! So many happy memories! Having a tug-of-war with another crazed mom in the aisle at Staples over the last 4” binder in the tri-state area! The chore of attempting (and attempting, and attempting) to waken my grouchy kids after a sleep-in summer! Filling out endless paperwork for all my little students the morning everything was due (I always hastily listed my nicest neighbor’s information as our “emergency contact”—figuring I’d ask her permission later)!

Oh, wait. HAPPY memories?

Never mind.

My First Day of 8th Grade--check out the anxious face!
Seriously, though, September always produces intense anxiety in me. As a child, I dreaded always having to getting used to a new classroom, and a new teacher. I would have fared much better as a resident of The Little House on the Prairie, with the same predictable schoolmarm for eight straight years. Instead, as soon as I learned the ways of my fourth grade teacher, a sweet 19- year-old Irish nun named Sister Mary Brendan, it was time to acclimate myself to the stern and forbidding Miss Hibbert in fifth. As we moved around a lot, First Day of School got tougher and tougher. I had to meet, then bid farewell to, a dizzying succession of instructors. In college, I would haunt the halls hoping to say hi to my really nice German teacher—while steering clear of my brilliant philosophy professor (I still have nightmares about the assignment: “Discuss Anselm’s ontological argument, then present your own proof of the existence of God.” Hey, Anselm was a good guy! Why couldn’t I just take his word for it?)

But these days, I do try to calm myself and count my autumn blessings—no one in our house is applying to college this year, for example. Nobody is bringing home a jam-packed “Friday folder” with the week’s math tests and spelling papers for me to look over and sign either. I haven’t packed a school lunch in years—no more running out of string cheese and peanut butter and that horrible yogurt you squeeze from a tube. No more time consuming and “clever” book report assignments (in third grade, the teacher fad was Book Report in a Can: empty aluminum cans that had to be covered with paper, then decorated with scenes from The Indian in the Cupboard. SO much work! And the kids even did a little bit of it too!)

Next week, maybe I’ll drive over to Jarrettown Elementary at dismissal and just sit in the car pool line for a while, for old times’ sake. I may shed a tear as I remember my children, who used to clamber into the back seat, talking eagerly and breathlessly about what happened at recess. But after that, I will dry my eyes and give thanks that we all got through those crazy, exhausting years. And as I do, maybe I’ll finally let go of my anxiety, which after all never did anyone any good, and learn at last to enjoy September.

Not going anywhere NEAR Staples, though.

Julie's First Day of Nursery School

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