Sunday, September 4, 2016

Reminiscing: Back to School

Here it is. It’s the last weekend of the summer. By Wednesday, everyone will be back to school full-time until the end of June. Some people are ecstatic that the kids are finally back to school. Meanwhile there is probably a very large contingent of people, mostly between the ages of 6 and 18, who just collectively groaned.

The first day of school is simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. It’s exciting to see all your friends again after a long summer away from each other. It is absolutely frightening to think of new people and trying to figure out a class schedule with new teachers you’ve never met. And if you happen to be going to a different school, well, you’re just adding onto the anxiety you would normally be feeling.

There’s something refreshing about going back to school, though. It’s different than the last day of school. On the first day, everything is fresh and clean. The books are unmarked and creak when you open them for the first time. You’re sitting next to old friends and making new ones all in the moments.

Meanwhile, you’re given a schedule that you can barely make hide nor hair of, and a locker that may or may not open when you try to decipher the numbers handed to you. Why is it that high school lockers are nowhere near your homerooms or your classrooms? My locker at Lockport High School was on the second floor in the north east corner of the building. My homeroom was on the first floor in the southwestern corner. Most of my classes where on the opposite side of the building. So, I did two things. First, I carried no books. Almost never. Second, if I knew I needed a book, I just shared lockers with someone who had a more central location. I know it’s a big no-no these days.

Back when I was going to school, I changed schools from the first, only twice. I went to Washington Hunt from Kindergarten through sixth grade, Emmet Belknap for seventh through ninth, and Lockport High School until graduation. My twins will be going to their fourth building in five years. When Washington Hunt closed, they went to Roy B. Kelley for a single year, then went to Emmet for fifth and sixth. Now they’re ready to go to seventh grade at North Park. Things sure are different than when I went to school.

One of the most wonderful things about the first day of school is the endless potential available. As the year goes on and you get more set in your ways, you seem to get pigeonholed into the outcome you’ve set up for yourself. That first day, though, anything can happen.

There is such a big difference between the first day and the last day of school. For the last day, when you run out the door for the first day of summer, the air seems to have a fresher scent than any other day. The scents on the early summer breezes echo with the laughter of summer games. The issue is that while we have all the best plans to hang out with our friends and cause as much trouble as legally possible, we rarely see everyone. The first day is always the better of the days of school.

Parents, get ready. Your little angels are off to soak up every bit of knowledge their brains can handle for another year. It will be another year of firsts, another year of new friends, and another year you wish you could just grab a hold of before their childhood is gone forever. Yes, we can’t wait for them to go to school, but we also don’t want them to grow up too quickly.

I can’t believe that the twins are already in 7th grade. I find it even harder to believe that the baby, Jo, is already in first grade and reading so well. It really doesn’t seem all that long ago that they were born. I can still remember their scrunched little faces first smiled on the world. It seems like yesterday. Now we’re talking about boys (ugh) and buying undergarments (ugh-ugh).

It’s another first day, with another set of pictures. I’m sure I’ll see plenty of posts on Facebook this week. It would be fair to say that you’ll probably see some on mine, too. And while they’re off to school for this first time this new year, I’ll be thinking of that long ago day that Ben, Brian, Adam, Joe, and I made that first trek to kindergarten together. There are still some walkers out there, so be extra careful driving.

Back to school means that Craig Bacon will be adding some new chores to his daily routine. And he’ll have a little more time for writing. Stay tuned for some of it coming soon.