This morning’s walk was mired in humidity. Everyone I passed seemed otherwise engaged in their own thoughts which makes for less greetings and more time to manage the steps ahead. I don’t mind this. I did more looking down at times and saw some small leaves that were the red color of autumn. Despite the onset of adulthood many years ago, this is the time of year during which I experience the anticipation of the school year. I have been fortunate for the last 13 years to work on a school year schedule , but even when I was a 52 week a year worker, there was something about August, and thinking about a going back to school schedule. I am sure having children helped foster that, but my internal calendar has always started in September. This year is no different. The leaves are beginning to turn, almost one at a time.
July seems to take its time and then August evaporates as we get closer to the end of the month. I never not wanted to go to school despite some struggles with peers and challenges with the adults. I was the kid that figured out the math problem in her head, but “lost credit” because I didn’t write down the steps, and just didn’t feel like explaining it. . Hence, math was a hated subject. I loved English (although I am not sure if you are supposed to capitalize “English”), and social studies, and some of the biological sciences, because I have a fascination with the brain and how the body works. Chemistry and physics did not hold any appeal. I did not like diagraming sentences and still am unclear on that concept. I was quiet and sometimes a bit ninja-like and tried to do things my way, at the same time I didn’t want to draw attention to what I essentially refused to do. I was a compliant child who had moments when I went rogue. I thought at one point that I would be a good doctor because I was very good at diagnosing things ,but my lack of precision suggested that I might not fare well without good malpractice. When you are quiet, you are able to observe and synthesize information and learn to read people. I was identified by the teachers/counselors/parents as the underachiever. That was essentially meaningless to me because anything I wanted to achieve was based on my intrinsic knowledge and interest, not what was expected by others. I was a pain in the ass to parent. I did it the way it suited me, on my time schedule, and with the outcome that I wanted. I call it my “Frank Sinatra” flair. Stubborn without a fedora and “my way”.
I have the opportunity, come September (actually the last week of August),to see a lot of students, who remind me, of me. They challenge the adults, their peers, their families because they just don’t want to comply. Part of it is being an adolescent, and that is developmentally the expectation, but it also is a way to be acknowledged, noticed without asking for help. I know for sure, that I would not want to be an adolescent again, despite a lot of positive things I learned. I would not want to learn them again, or differently. What I want to do this September is remind the kids I will see, day in and day out, that there is a someone, a teacher, a counselor, a coach, a nurse, or the lady in the lunchroom, the man who is a maintenance worker, an administrator, or an office staff person, who shows up every day, and wants to listen to your story and wants to be that person that you trust and cares about you. Most days, I am a grownup, but there are moments where I clearly remember that I needed to find my someone to just talk to and know consistently that they would listen. August is leaving, but I’m not. I’m just going to do what I do and find the kids that need that.