Back to School

This was a busy week. We attended three open houses at our local elementary and middle schools. We met our kids’ teachers, saw their classrooms, lugged supplies to their desks and cubbies. The Little Man, Zach, who is now entering 7th grade, got his first locker1. We made sure he tested out his combination twice. The Littlest Miss, who turned 5 yesterday, met her kindergarten teacher, saw where she’d be sitting, and has been asking ever since if it is Monday yet. The Little Miss, Grace, saw where she was sitting, and scouted out the desks of three or four of her good friends in the neighborhood to see where they were sitting as well. Both schools are short walks from the house, but with the mind-numbing heat and humidity, they were hot, sweaty walks.

Kelly made an interesting observation: all three open houses were held in the mornings, one on Tuesday, the other two on Thursday. Normally, these happen in the evenings, after parents have returned home from work. But not this year. And the classrooms were filled with students and parents. Maybe because many people in this area are able to work from home?

I had a different observation: why are these events called “open houses” and not “open classrooms”? Open houses are those things that real estate agents put on to try to hock their wears. I’ve never understood why they call these school events open houses when open classrooms makes much more sense.

Walking through the corridors of the school buildings sent flashbacks of my own time in school. I was reminded of things like bells that told class was over, and the rush of studentry2 to the next class before the “tardy” bell rang. Given how many people I know that are consistently late to things today, I think the entire notion of bells was a failure, Pavlov not withstanding. While Zach was attempting to open his locker, I was trying to remember my own locker combination from high school. I was trying to remember ever using my locker. I must have used it in the course of my years at the high school, but no specific memory came to mind.

Meeting the teachers is always awkward these days. Most of them appear as if they are just out of school themselves. Yet my own years in school come back to me and force a kind of reverence and deference to them. At the same time, they look like teenagers. Kelly always has lots of question for the teachers and doesn’t even raise her hand to ask them. When I am in the presence of a teacher, my hand instinctively goes up when I want to ask a question. This has led to some questionable looks from the other parents around me, to say nothing of the teachers.

As a kid, back to school meant the end of the summer and a long school year looming before me. It did mean I got to wear my new back-to-school clothes, but that was small consolation. On the flip side, I got to see my friends every day. Today, back to school takes on a new light. Monday will be the first time since March 2020 that all three kids will be out of the house for a big chunk of the day. Last year, the girls’ started school at 7:55, but this year school doesn’t begin for them until 9 am, meaning no rush in the mornings. And, after seven years of driving the kids to school each morning and picking them up each afternoon, all three kids can now either walk to school or ride their bike. I’m trying to imagine how quiet the house will seem between the hours of 9am and 3pm five days a week.

I love our kids, but I am looking forward to that peace and quiet.

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  1. He would have had a locker last year, but they weren’t using locker because of COVID.
  2. A nod to Strunk & White. I’ve always wanted to use this word in a sentence.

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