Posts Tagged ‘back to school’

I’m seeing a lot of back to school pictures on Facebook today. Too soon. I remember, when my kids were growing up, being sad when they were getting ready to go back. I really enjoyed having them home all day. It was fun and gave us a chance to explore and do things we couldn’t do during the school year. Staying up late. Drive in movies that didn’t start until 9 pm. Road trips. I loved having them home all day long.

And I’m sad too because the time for my daughter and the kids to move is getting close. I’m not sure how I’ll handle it, at least at the beginning. It’s the end of one phase, and although that means it is the beginning of another one, I’m still sad.

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School Stuff

I just Anderson off to kindergarten and I am feeling a little conflicted about it.  It’s an end but also a beginning and he was happy, all smiles as they drove off to school.  Next week he takes the bus!  Lots of changes for all of us.  It got me to thinking about school and first days so here’s a list of the things I used to love about going back to school.

New clothes–it was one of the few times we got new clothes when I was growing up.  We could count on a new outfit for the first day of school, Christmas, and Easter.

Friends–We didn’t live in the same neighborhood as my school friends so I didn’t get to see them during school breaks.  The first day of school meant I got to see my friends again.

Books–I loved books but we didn’t have them at home and my parents didn’t believe in borrowing from the library so going back to school meant I got to be around books!

Teachers–I liked teachers (at least most of the time) because they helped me to learn things so going back to school meant I got a new teacher and I would also get to know my siblings’  teachers because they were older and when school was over, I got to go wait for them to get out of their class and sometimes their teachers would let me go into the classroom to wait.

Those were the givens.  There were other bonuses like hopscotch and dodge ball and jump rope but the ones above were the ones I really looked forward to!

What about YOU?  What did you like about going back to school?  What did you not like?

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A lot of us have been reading blogs about back to school for the past month now.  It’s that time of year.  I haven’t done one this year but I have written my share of them in previous years.  I might be doing another one in the next couple of weeks as my grandson will be starting kindergarten on the 14th of September.  Then again, I might not.  However, when I was reading blogs yesterday, I came across one that reminded me of one post I haven’t written.  In his Goodbyes post, blogger Bill Cunningham, writes about taking his oldest son to college and saying goodbye.  You might enjoy reading it.

My oldest and only son (the other two are daughters) is Tony and I have written about him previously but I don’t recall writing about the weekend I drove him 400 miles to leave him at college for the first time.  It was in September of 2000. We lived in Glendale, California (yup, basically Los Angeles).  He was going to UC Santa Cruz which was a little under 400 miles from us.  I had a Nissan Pathfinder at the time.  It was loaded to the gills and then some.  The question was do we take the girls or not?  My oldest daughter was 16 at the time and didn’t want to go.  So she stayed home cleaning out her brother’s room and making it her own (she didn’t waste any time!).  Her father was a phone call away so that worked out. But Susie was 10 years old and she was super attached to her big brother.  She was already getting depressed because he was leaving home.  So I took her with me so she would have a chance to spend some time with him in the car and see where he would be living and say her goodbyes.  I took her out of school on the Friday before he had to move in because we would have to drive up that day to make it to move in early the next day so we drove on Friday, spent the night in a motel in town then took him to campus early the next morning.

Move in was super organized.  There was a lot of help.  Basically, we pulled up and before we knew it, the car was unloaded and his things were being carried to his dorm.  When the car was empty, I was directed to a parking lot for parents that were staying for the welcome activities so we didn’t say our goodbyes because we would be meeting him in a while and going to some of the activities with him before leaving campus.  When we saw him after a couple of hours, he took us to his dorm so we could see his room.  It was good for Susie (and me) to see where he would be living (he had scored a single room in a 3 room unit with 4 other male students.  It was tiny but he didn’t have to share with anyone and he had a sliding patio door to his room so if he didn’t want to go through the living room and hall way, he didn’t have to.  We met a couple of the roommates.  We got a short list of things he still needed and Susie and I went shopping and brought back what he needed.  Then we walked to the bookstore to get his textbooks.  He didn’t have a credit card so I would need to get those for him.  And at the check out counter, I spotted stamps.  Postage stamps.  I grabbed a booklet of stamps and added them to our pile.  I wanted him to have the stamps so if he wanted to write or send a post card to anyone, not just us, he would have the stamps.  He had left a girlfriend back home and I figured he might be writing to her often, if not to us.

Then it was time to say goodbye.  Sigh.  Susie and I were staying in town overnight again and leaving for home on Sunday morning after a short detour to Carmel which I had promised Susie.  One of the reasons was that I wanted Tony to have a chance to see if he needed anything else before Mom left town.  The campus is way up on a hill, quite a ways from any shopping so I wanted to make sure he was not lacking anything he might need.  Well, we checked in with him by phone before leaving town and he didn’t need anything so we had no reason/excuse to go back up to campus for another goodbye.  But then Susie wanted to say goodbye on the phone and before I knew it, we were driving back to campus to see him and for another goodbye.  I kind of needed that too so I was glad to have the excuse of taking Susie to say goodbye.  That was the tough one.  That goodbye was the one that counted…the one that made us all realize that it was real and he wasn’t going home with us and we wouldn’t see him for awhile…probably until Thanksgiving.  There were lots of long hugs and many unspilled tears which finally spilled as we drove out of town.

The drive home was horrible as I got lost up in the mountains between Carmel and King City.  What I thought was an alternate route (according to the map) was actually a very narrow road that was probably used by cattle ranchers up there.  Instead of taking  30 minutes to get from the Pacific Coast Highway to US-101, it took us 3 HOURS!  And by the time we got to the main freeway, Susie was really sick and my nose was running like a faucet which is not good when you still have a 5 hour drive ahead of you.  But it did one thing…it took our minds off of leaving Tony behind.  At least for the drive home.

We all survived.  It turned out that his sisters missed him so much that we found ourselves making the 6 hour drive about once a month.  Sometimes we would take his best friend or his girl friend with us to visit.  And what saved us all was…technology!  In those days everyone used AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) kind of like texting on a computer!  So we made a deal, Tony would stay signed in to AOL and I would, too.  That way, I could see his on and off times and know he was okay without having to call him to check.  Sometimes he would leave Away Messages designed to let me know he was okay but would be away (something like: Late class; back by 11).  That was a lifesaver (or a phone call saver).  I knew he was okay but I didn’t have to be intrusive and he didn’t have to keep checking in.  That’s how we handled it. And of course, if he did need to talk to me, I was right there at the other end of the computer connection (yeah, no wireless, we were on dial up at the time).

That’s how we survived.  To anyone out there facing a moving away offspring…you’ll get through it.  You’ll find a way to keep in touch and know when you are needed.  You will.  Trust me.

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I keep thinking about an incident that happened in 2000 that keeps popping up.  It bothers me.  I’m not sure it should.  I’ve not mentioned it to anyone but I think I’m ready to write about it.  I think it will be soon. Why? I think it has been bothering me because it’s important.  It’s an important issue, especially for women, and clearly for young women.  So I will get busy on that and see if I can organize my thoughts.  Or maybe just tell it like it happened and let you decide what is important about it and why.

Another thing that has been on my mind is age.  I know I am not a spring chicken.  I am the first to tell my age…59.  I’ll be 60 in a few short months.  I used to think that was old but now as it approaches, I have come to realize that it’s just another in an ever escalating list of numbers. It doesn’t mean that I’m done. It doesn’t mean that I should go hide away in a corner and stay quiet. It doesn’t mean that I have nothing to say.  It doesn’t mean that no one should listen to me.  But that’s how I feel at times, more and more so.  It seems that people see an older person and instead of thinking “gee, I wonder what I can learn from this person”, they think something like “oh they’re so out of it; they’re over the hill and I don’t have anything to learn by listening to them.”  I guess it’s natural for the younger ones to ignore the wisdom of the older ones. But I don’t like it.  I don’t ignore those older than me. There are a lot of older bloggers out there…yeah, older than me!  They have something of value to say and I will listen to them.  There are also a lot of much younger than me bloggers with a lot to say that I want to hear. If I can help them and support them in any way, even if it as just a cheerleader or a surrogate mom, I’m there.

School.  It’s starting up again.  Well, local kids have another month before they start but I know that in California, they start this week.  In some places they already started last week. Whenever they start, it always seems bittersweet to me.  It’s the end of free time, learning from doing time, fun time, for them. It’s the end of playing in the street until long after the sun has set.  As such, it’s a melancholy time.  Yet, it’s the beginning of new learning.  It’s the beginning of new friends and a new teacher or two.  For many, it’s the beginning of a new school experience.  It’s the beginning of change.  It’s the beginning of widening horizons.  That’s a promising thing.  I remember loving it.  I was always happier during the school year.  It gave me a sense of purpose and a sense of accomplishment and of promise.

I guess that’s what’s on my mind today.  And I have a little five year old telling me that he wants to go get his hair cut because it’s in his eyes again.  So I guess that’s the next thing for today!

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After all the years of having to get supplies for returning to school, first for myself and then for my kids, I have found myself going through a kind of withdrawal at back to school time for the past few years.  No longer do I have kids heading back to school.  No longer do I need to catch the best price on binder paper, folders, ink pens, pencils and all that stuff.  No more backpacks to buy, which is good because those things are expensive!  I remember having to buy three backpacks for the kids each year and they had to be Jansport with the leather bottoms if they were going to last at least half the year.  The three cost me well over $100 each year and my oldest usually went through two of them each school year (more books to carry to and from the high school). 

These days I find that I still venture over to the school supplies section at the store during back to school time.  I no longer get anything.  It’s tempting.  I will even pick up a pack of pens and think about it but then I end up putting them back.  And binder paper.  That was always one of those things that you had to get enough of at the beginning of the school year, while it was on sale, or you’d pay five times the price during the school year if you ran out. 

The other day, while at Target, I sort of meandered to the school supplies and was about to walk away, realizing that I didn’t need any of those things, when Anderson walked up to me.  My daughter has started letting him walk around the store on his own these days (not always a good idea but hey, it’s her child so I can’t say anything).  He walked up to me and grabbed my hand and pulled me to the crayons and markers in the back to school section.  I laughed.  I guess it won’t be long until we have to start getting him stuff at back to school sales and prices!  He didn’t get any of it that day.  I had to distract him.  He did have crayons a while back but his walls are now “custom colored” so he can’t have them anymore unless we’re eating out and they are needed as a distraction (that’s why I keep a bunch of them in my purse, too).

When we got back into the car, I had to move his backpack out of the way and it reminded me of back to school stuff again.  His backpack now is just a lightweight kids’ Spiderman (he calls it Diderman) backpack but before we know it, he’ll need one for school.

And although I did think of getting school supplies for him and saving them until he needs them, I thought better of it and didn’t.  It can wait.  And of course, he’ll want to pick out his own pencils and paper and supplies. 

Yeah, I can wait.  It won’t be long.

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