For as long as I can remember, I have always loved going back to school. I remember getting letters from our teachers that outlined the year and included lists of school supplies. It was the same every year… we’d go to Wal-Mart with our mother and she’d always complain about what was on the lists and how much it would all cost. Buying tissues for the class was always her biggest gripe. But I loved it. I loved wandering the busy back-to-school sections. The more pencils, protractors, binders, wide ruled paper, and dividers I needed the better. Sadly, I don’t think I ever actually owned a Trapper Keeper–just the crappy knock-off. It’s still a dream of mine.
Buying new clothes was fun too. It caused our mother great angst also, but we learned to ignore it. We loved getting new things. I remember my Buster Brown saddle shoes and bobby socks. Even now, I can remember the exact outfits I wore to school in elementary school. I had a pair of purple pleather pants and they were to die for! And the laborious brushing of our hair for picture day. Good old picture day!
Aside from all the clothes and supplies, back-to-school time of year brings me back to another place. It makes me think of the fall, long sleeves, crisp orange leaves, and a coolness in the air. I started school in New Jersey, where they start after Labor Day. In a short time it’s Autumn and the days are shorter and all you think about is what you’ll be for Halloween in the school parade. At least that’s how I remember it.
As I got older, going back to school became more. I saw it as new beginnings and fresh starts. I wanted to shed all of the drama and failures from the year before, and set my sights on new dreams and hopes. I never had deep dreams, mind you, but they were still dreams. I looked forward to the prospect of new friends, love interests, interesting books, clubs to join, having school seniority, maybe becoming someone that people noticed. The last one never happened–I was a mousey wallflower, but I turned out okay in the end.
I know that everyone didn’t share these same experiences or feel the same anticipation that I did every year when school rolled around. I remember not being able to sleep because I was so excited and wondered how my first day would play out. And I experienced this until my last year in high school. I wonder what it is that made me that way and others the opposite. Some kids really hated going to school. That was never the case with me.
I won’t spend too much time dwelling on that, but I do know that I love learning. I always have. I think it’s a quality that helps to make me a good teacher. For whatever reason, I have kept those memories very close by and I think they drive and motivate me and make me love what I do more.
We start school tomorrow and I have those same first day jitters that I did as a child. I probably won’t sleep well and will be playing out in my head a million different scenarios about how my day will unfold. But it’s different now. I’m the teacher that will be smiling on my students as they enter my door. And they will be holding the same fear and nervous excitement that I once did. Because those years aren’t so far behind me, I will know how to abate their anxieties and hope to make their day a little more pleasant.
I’m the teacher. What a cool thing to be able to say. I wonder if all kids that start out like me end up teaching too. Food for thought.
So in preparation for my first day tomorrow, I’m going to do what I have always done. I’ll take a shower and shave my legs. I may even pluck out a few rogue eyebrow hairs. I’ll do my make-up just a little more pretty. Then I’ll stand in my closet and stare at my clothes for a minute. After all, I’ll have to pick out just the right something that is flattering, but something that hides sweat. Even after all these years, I still get nervous when new kids walk into my room. And I sweat. Good thing the bathroom is across the hall.
Then next week, as the stores start to settle down, I might just go buy myself that Trapper Keeper I have always dreamed of. I deserve it, right? Do they even sell them anymore? I might be too late!
What are your memories about going back to school? I’d love to hear them!
xoxo ~Marisa (circa 1981 or 1982–first day of the 1st grade)