Will Call: Back to school
Searching for sundries at a local department store, I recently found myself surrounded by backpacks and binders and had to remind myself I’m (more or less) all grown up.
Just as many adults still dream of being unprepared for a pop quiz, I can’t shake the back to school mood even though I no longer have a school to go back to. You can’t spend 12 or more years of your life in one familiar cycle and immediately readjust.
I think it’s fair to say that, for kids, the school year means a lot more than the calendar year. Despite summer vacation’s reputation for undermining academic growth, it’s one of the chief joys of childhood and divides the epochs of our young lives. It is much easier to tell you in which grade something happened than which year, if only because of the associated cast of characters. Third and fourth grade blur together as two years in Jerry Pluger’s class with more or less the same fellow students. College, by contrast, had the distinct oddity of returning from a two week winter break to a whole new set of teachers and peers.
Back to my original point, the back to school season for me is all tied up with a sense of new possibilities. It was never easy to let go of the freedom of summer. In fact, I still feel that urgency to fit everything in before the cold weather. Still, the excitement of starting fresh made up for it— at least until the first homework assignment.
Then there’s the matter of all the gear that goes with school. Now that I think about it, it says something about the way we fund our school systems that kids are expected to bring their own pencils and tissue boxes, much less that teachers end up furnishing their own supplies. Still, I always enjoyed selecting new notebooks and decorating book covers. Usually, I was permitted one luxury beyond the standard list. A 64 crayon set, complete with built in sharpener, gained me plenty of status in second grade and had a lasting impact on my color vocabulary.
Although I still get a little satisfaction out of opening a new notepad, it’s not quite the same. Similarly, though writing an article sometimes reminds me of college essays, there’s no seasonal cycle of deadlines to mark time. The closest I’ll probably get to back to school shopping is nabbing some new backpacking gear in preparation for a CMC outdoor class I plan to audit. Oh, and I did buy some pens from the back to school aisle.
Will Grandbois may get over his affinity for loose leaf graph paper after his 10th high school reunion. He can be reached at 384-9105 or firstname.lastname@example.org.