A lot of kids mourned the end of summer, but I always loved when school started again. Maybe it was because I was good at school (you know–that goody-two-shoes who always screwed up the bell curve). I liked making lists, checking off tasks and having my hard work rewarded.
I know it’s corny, but fall has always felt full of wondrous possibilities for me. I love new pens and notebooks, cool windy weather, and the idea of acquiring a chic wardrobe that makes me look like Audrey Hepburn. Every September I say to myself that this is the year I’ll learn to play an instrument, learn a new language, get a cool haircut, and start fresh.
When I was little, I used to pretend that I was going down in the morning to meet the school bus. In my mind, buses were magical things that took you to meet your best friend in a place with an infinite number of books. But when I finally got to public elementary school, I had to walk there. I did meet a best friend, though—Betsy. We looked so much alike people thought we were sisters. And our birthdays were just days apart. We would listen to the radio for hours, read Mad Magazine, and talk about boys. Somewhere along the way I also learned about fractions, the rules of kickball, and how to make a book report diorama in a shoebox.
And so I advanced on to middle school, high school, college, and graduate school–and even did a stint teaching college myself. I enjoyed all the new beginnings, but found to my sorrow that regular life rarely pats you on the head in appreciation for your hard work. It just gives you more items to add to your list.
My diorama skills might be coming in handy, though. My son went off to kindergarten last week in New York City. His teacher is smart and friendly, and there are kids in his class that he knows from pre-K. He loves his new notebooks and markers, too. He’d like to replace his Diego backpack with a Spiderman one, and, although I understand the sentiment, I haven’t caved yet. And he is disappointed not to ride a school bus. I can’t tell him that there’s more to school then the ride there. He has to learn that for himself.