Oh, how odd it feels not to go back to school.
“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
― Mark Twain
Fall is undoubtedly here. The evenings grow dark so quickly, and the crisp air sends us inside for sweaters and toques. Pepper and I still go out for walks amidst the changing leaves, yellow mostly from the drought of summer rather than the change of weather. There’s a constant chill as we still manage to harvest tomatoes and herbs from the greenhouse, hoping for one more round of vegetables before frost wipes out our plants.
My body knows it’s back to school. I feel a jolt of energy in the mornings, as though I ought to be up and preparing myself to head into town, spending this week making name tags and hosting kindergarten orientation, meeting thirty odd kids who are excited, hopeful, eager, solemn and often terrified to start school. Then comes the days of discovering who’s who, and which kids are destined to be trouble, who will be in for speech therapy, who’ll be working on gross motor skills. First fire drills and assemblies will inevitably lead to tears for some, and there are, without a doubt, certain to be a handful of first month costume changes, as there’s too much fun to be had to make it to the bathroom on time.
Kids with new clothes, lunch bags, carrot sticks and raisins. New friends and new teachers. First friends and first teachers for some. Last years kids, the ever professional first graders will wander down after recess and scope out their old classroom, sneaking huge hugs from the teachers they spent that life changing first year with.
Lost teeth and haircuts, fancy new shoes with lights. They’ll be excited to show off all of the start-of-the-year essentials. Even the staff have a sense about them of newness. Starting over, they’ll all set goals; more patience this year, less stress, more energy, take courses, learn new things. Even the adults arrive with new shoes and styles for the fall.
This year, I’m staying home on those chilly mornings. I’m changing diapers and dangling toys. I’m tickling and snuggling and counting toes. I’m singing songs, recalling all the kindergarten hits in my living room. I’ve got my own, permanent little student to teach and guide, as I read her Rudyard Kipling and do voices that she doesn’t entirely appreciate just yet.
So strange to leave behind teaching from 9-330 for a life of teaching 24/7. It’s such a different world, and yet so the same. Identifying colors and body parts, reading stories and singing songs. Many people ask if I’m heading back to work, but I just can’t fathom paying someone to raise my child while I spend my day raising others.
For now, our classroom is our sunny kitchen, our backyard. Our walks through the delicately falling leaves are our field trips; our strolls to watch the sky bleed pink and purple as the sun sets. Coffee breaks are few and far between, in this world of cat naps (oh, have I mentioned Pepper sleeps only 30 minutes at a time?? I think it’s come up……any ideas, followers?). My student, though only one, offers up a great paycheck of giggles and growth, as I watch her learn more and more each day, admittedly, at this time, about how to put things in her mouth and what on earth are those things at the end of my legs??
Oh, how odd not to go back to school.
But, truly, to still be teaching.
Not to mention learning. My student is teaching me day in and day out, more about patience than any school kid ever has. I’m learning about myself and my limits and how high pitched Freddie Mercury imitations are the greatest way to encourage smiles amidst tears of frustration at not being able to move around yet! I’ve learned that that damn bouncy seat is just not going to work for Pepper, and I’ve learned that she’s getting more and more interested in staring at mom and dad as they eat their dinner, watching that spoon go from food to mouth. I’m learning that, love her as I do, I need grown up company, and I have GOT to find some friends who don’t work, if only to keep us both entertained from time to time. I’m also learning that I need to quit baking before I gain all the weight I didn’t gain when I was pregnant. This growing belly has more to do with peach blueberry crisp than it does with pregnancy pounds.
Here’s to an ever lasting sense of back to school, and to the hope of fostering this desire to learn into Pepper. I hope to teach her to explore and seek adventure, to want to know and understand, and keep searching for knowledge long past school hours.
I’ve certainly cited this quote before, but it is truly one of my favorites, so it is worth a repeat.
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
Here’s to school, here’s to class, education of the world. To teaching. To learning. Everyday, no matter where.