Posted tagged ‘Back to school’

“I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.”

August 31, 2017

Today is a delight. The humidity is still among the missing. The morning was even a bit chilly. I wished I had a sweatshirt on when I was outside waiting for Gracie. It rained all Tuesday night into Wednesday early afternoon but then the sun came out and the rest of the day was lovely. I hung around the house yesterday and finally did the laundry. It has made it upstairs only as far as this floor, but I still feel accomplished.

The kids around here go back to school next week, the day after Labor Day. It was also when I went back to school. I complained every year because that is the responsibility of kids the world over, but I didn’t really care. By the end of the summer I had run out of things to do. I was bored though I would never have admitted it.

On the weekend before going back to school, I checked out all my school supplies again and again. I sharpened my pencils and loaded and unloaded my school bag. I used to carry it with the strap across my chest, and I’d check out the look in the mirror.

I got to wear a new outfit on the first day of school, the only day of no uniforms. My mother would lay out our outfits on our beds. New clothes and new shoes were special.

On the schoolyard, I’d see my school friends for the first time since the summer had begun. When the bell rang, a hand bell rung by a nun, we’d go into the building but not in lines. Those would start the next day after we had found our classrooms and classmates. There were two classes of every grade, each with 40 or more students. One class got a nun while the other class didn’t. The nuns by their very natures kept us quiet and attentive. We didn’t dare do otherwise. The not nun teachers were just as strict. We all knew the being attentive position. It was sitting at our desks with our hands folded on top of it.

After the first few days, school became routine. We were back in uniform. Bells ruled our lives. We entered and left the school in lines. We did homework. It was a long way until June.

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“Summer has filled her veins with light and her heart is washed with noon.”

August 28, 2016

Today is another lovely day, sunny and not too humid. We will be cooler here with an ocean breeze keeping us in the high 70’s. Tonight should be even cooler.

The house next door isn’t rented, the first time all summer. I think it’s because many schools start this coming week so vacation is over. The TV has been filled with ads for back to school clothes and supplies. Parents are rejoicing.

Last night was movie night. We watched a 1957 black and white science fiction movie called The Beginning of the End. It was wonderful. The giant grasshoppers, the locust, are destroying whole towns and are headed for Chicago. The hero, a scientist, and the heroine, a newspaper woman, bravely counter the onslaught. She wears a lot of hats and carries petite purses. He stays impeccably dressed and his sharply pleated pants never wrinkle. The movie was quite entertaining. It also made us laugh.

Yesterday I went to the Italian cheese shop and bought goodies for last night: crostini, Taleggio, a soft cheese, and prosciutto. My next stop was the candy store for chocolates and fudge. My friends brought hummus and a hot cheese dip. We dined lavishly as we watched the movie.

Today is a day of rest. Gracie and I need to go to the dump, but that can wait until tomorrow. The day is so lovely we’ll be outside on the deck. Gracie will sleep in the shade, and I’ll sit at the table to finish reading the papers then I think I may just nap on the lounge. Thinking about it is making me yawn.

Tom Cruise has braces now, too. I’m right in style.”

August 9, 2012

It’s back to hibernation I go. The day will be hot and humid, mostly humid. I turned the AC on last night so the house is now quite comfortable. Gracie rang her door bells at 8, and I let her out, waited for her and then went back right upstairs to bed. I woke up at ten. I was surprised.

Some commercials are now filled with back to school clothes, school supplies and happy kids. I don’t get the happy kids part.  A new pair of pants or a shirt just isn’t enough to make up for the end of summer. The school year looms and it’s always long. Summer is a mere 9 or ten weeks and school is eons, months and months. I never thought about them until I was older: school pictures. They take them early in the year, and I finally figured out why. If it were later, not a kid could smile.

My first grade picture is of a little girl wearing a white blouse and a skirt with straps. My hair is long and curly at the ends. I have crooked, buck teeth so in the second grade I had started to go to an orthodontist, not so common back then. There were none where we lived so my mother and I had to walk uptown to take the bus to Sullivan Square where we took the subway to Kenmore Square. I remember going to see Dr. Nice. His office was in one of those grand homes along Commonwealth Avenue which are still beautiful today. The waiting room was a big as the downstairs of my house. It had couches and lovely lamps on the tables. His receptionist sat at a giant desk, or at least it looked giant to me. Dr. Nice wore a white jacket with buttons on the shoulders like Dr. Casey’s later on TV. Dr. Nice was an old man with white hair. His office faced the street. I didn’t see much of it when my mouth was open. All I saw was the ceiling. I liked Dr. Nice.

I went through all the stages of braces. Early on my teeth were covered in metal. I looked like Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me. No one else I knew had braces. Some needed them but going to the orthodontist as a rite of childhood was off in the future. I was embarrassed by those braces. In my second grade picture I didn’t smile. I hid my braces. It is not a pretty picture.

“I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.”

September 7, 2010

On my way to an early morning meeting, I saw mothers on the corners waiting with their kids for the elementary school bus. I was reminded of my first days of school, especially grammar school.

There were only eight first days of grammar school, a small number, but those eight days had so many different feelings attached. I remember regret for the end of summer, for the end of days filled with fun and adventure, but I also remember excitement, getting to wear new clothes and new shoes and finally getting to use my new schoolbag with the pencil box and crayons tucked inside. Walking to school, I’d carry my lunchbox with one hand, and it would sway back and forth as I walked. Getting closer to school meant getting nervous. I always wondered which teacher I’d get. There was always a good one and a bad one. I remember running into the school yard waving and shouting at my school friends, and I remember the bell. When it rang, we formed our two by two lines  and we walked into the school one grade at a time. The nuns walked with us. That part never changed year to year.

I had forty seven total first days of school. I remember fear, nerves and excitement the first few days of my freshman year in college, and I remember being really nervous, butterflies in my stomach nervous, my very first days of teaching ever, both here and in Ghana. After that, first days were nothing extraordinary though I did wear new shoes and a new outfit. Some traditions were worth continuing.

This is the seventh school year without me. I didn’t have to buy new shoes or new clothes, and I didn’t have to set my alarm for 5:15. It’s still summer for me and it will continue to be summer no matter how cold it gets.