New School

Yesterday was the first day of school here in Teller County. Small bundles of parents gathered outside the kindergarten doors, getting their 1st instructions and waving goodbye to their tiny little people in tiny little backpacks. Middleschoolers scrambled to find friends in their homerooms and at their lunch tables. The empty parking lot at the high school was crammed full for the first time in months. Everywhere, classroom cubbies and lockers were filled, and schedules started. And for the first time at my house, all school kids left on their own. One son donned his backpack and walked out the door; two others got in the car and drove off together.
The simple fact that every son now leaves on their own makes me feel like I am starting at a new school, too. Nothing about my school morning looks familiar. It's like the classroom of my life just got a big dose of breathing space.
We do not live within limits of any bus routes. So morning school transport means walking, biking, or driving. In crazier years, I have had to navigate children getting to three different schools. Which meant around and 1 1/2 to two hours a day in the car, spread out in various 15-20 minute segments. Anything productive in life had to be lived in small pie-shaped pieces of a sliced-up day. Consequently, my kids have had to do a lot of walking, or worse, waiting and wondering if I was going to remember to pick them up.
Words I'd choose to describe that time are "scatter-brained," "in a hurry," or "chicken-with-her-head-cut-off." I know you know what I'm talking about -- either because you've lived it too, or you know someone like me.
So, it's hard to explain what a profound difference it is, to wave goodbye to my kids and step into this small bit of free space. It's like when a half-day kindergartner starts the full days of 1st grade and now you have several hours that are yours ... alone. Or, maybe like shutting the door behind you and looking around at that first apartment when it's just you, and empty space, and a whole new life ahead. That's what my 1st-week-of-school mornings feel like.
Here I am at my desk, and it feels like my invisible teacher is now standing in front of a huge map and chalkboard, explaining that I am starting with an "A" -- and I can keep it or lose it. For the record, I always loose the "A" unless it's band, drama, or english. Realistically, I will not be keeping this "A" either. An "F" in this new class will happen if I completely don't show up, and do nothing with the this opportunity to learn.
So, I'm left deciding what to do with my little bit of new morning free time. And, as luxurious as that may sound, it's not all that tidy. There are a million things shouting to be tended; A thousand small details, a hundred possible projects, a dozen unattended To-Do's. I am feeling pretty certain that I'll loose my "A" if the clamor from all those things gets my first attention. My first attention in this new learning space has to be about slowing down and attending to the quieter priorities that get lost when life is loud, fast, and crazy. That's the goal. And it's not as easy as it sounds.
Apparently there's a lot to learn in this new season. And I want all my fellow students to know that there's absolutely nothing wrong with a decent "B-".

'Gotta go. 'Bell rang. 'Late for class.


Anonymous said...

For several years now, the first day of school has been a new beginning for me. I have a whole long list of possibilities that I get to choose from. And I am aware of the need to DO WELL in at least a few. The thought of failing miserably looms large, and the hope of maybe (just maybe) actually 'getting it' is still alive.

May the hope last longer than in years past, and may the failures be brief. May we both pick up quickly after stumbling, and press on.


Laura said...

i love this post! what a great picture of relearning how to spend time--wisely and most bestly (for lack of a better word!) thanks for writing this. loved reading it .. . as always.