I know it is July. It is steamy hot and the cicadas are singing their summer anthem. The swimsuit is drying on the line from last Sunday’s boat ride and VBS is barely over. Yet I know. I feel it.
School is back in session. It is as if I can smell the new shoes and book bags. I seem to gravitate to the ads for glue, crayons and markers, and all the necessities on the supply list. Will my teacher radar ever retire? I left the classroom two years ago and I still remember not being able to eat breakfast on that first day of school. Yep. For thirty-two years, I was so excited and nervous that consuming food was just a passing thought. The kids were coming! I hoped they found my room, that their lockers opened (every time) and that “Tall Hall” was met with excitement and not dread. You never know. One year a kid walked in and said, “Hey. I heard you are mean. Are you?” I looked him square in the eye and I said, “I heard the same thing about you.” He smiled, I smiled back and we played nice all year.
I sat on the porch this evening and thought of all the work that goes into that first day of school. My mother and I used to work for days to get my room ‘just so’. My fondest memories are of she and I cleaning, organizing, doing bulletin boards. And re-doing bulletin boards (“Deborah…that is not straight and it is not staying like that!”) And giggling when she put the letters of the alphabet in the wrong order…it was usually around ‘p’ and ‘s’. Guess she needed some fresh iced tea. But I was committed to making sure that the place kids were going to ‘live’ for 180 days was welcoming, dazzling, and theirs. We usually pulled it off, didn’t we Mom?
But tomorrow is the first day of school for five of the grandkiddos. I will drive to both of their homes to hear the groans, “guess what?” and stories of the day. I will listen, smile and wonder where the years went…as it just seemed like yesterday that their parents were wiggling loose teeth, griping about homework, and laying out new school clothes for the next day. When my youngest went to kindergarten, he came home and proclaimed, “I’m not going back. I CANNOT get on her good side.” Well, after he quit kissing little girls under the table and was moved away from the neighbor kid, things improved. Adjustments to school take time.
So….here we are. A ‘balanced calendar’ is in the making and summer has been stolen. Okay-so that is a bit dramatic. But July? Really? My best friend lives in Michigan. The state mandated that all schools return after Labor Day. Something about Michigan and all of their tourists, lakes, and such. Perhaps that is late and I am not so old-fashioned that I think kids need to be home to help out around the farm. But I would like to visit the State Fair without worrying about homework and bedtimes.
Maybe this teacher realizes the value in being a kid. How the school day must foster a sense of wonder, innate curiosity, and the thrill of being an excited learner. Watching children learn is like being under a magic spell—for both teacher and student. There is nothing like it.
So as you tuck your little ones in at night, do so with a prayer that the summer melts into a grand adventure called ‘school’. And don’t tell them this ole’ educator thinks that someone stole their summer. After all….back to school is just another date on the calendar.
Sure hope the wet swim suits don’t drip on their homework.