School Blues or Blessings?

August 11, 2011

There is something very lazy and carefree that comes with the summertime.
The warm days, suntanned skin, watermelon, tank tops. They soothingly whisper, Take a deep breath. Move a little slower. Drink in the sunshine. Put on your wide-brimmed straw hat and spread out under the sun. Work can wait. Another thing these months bring is the inundation of everything youthful. Those peaceful, beautiful hours from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. when children were safely inside their classrooms become only a dream. Like the days when a gallon of gas cost 99 cents.
For those three months, we listen to the bass of their rap music as we drive to the post office, sidestep their hurtling vehicles in the gas station parking lot, feign oblivion of the dressing room tantrums.
These are sacrifices that must be made in exchange for the wind in our hair, the warm summer air and the smell of suntan lotion.
We remind ourselves that soon enough, the tykes will return to their academic pursuits and pep rallies for another year.
And then will come the sweet reprieve of fall and child-less shopping.
It takes me back to my school days. I find it amazing how time has flown since my high school graduation. But those years leading up to graduation couldn’t have crept by any slower.
I remember walking to my first hour history class in seventh grade and thinking, I still have five years to go.
I seriously considered dropping out in eleventh grade. Not because I was rebellious or unwilling to learn. But because my time felt too valuable to waste.
I’m probably one of the only kids who ever begged her parents to let her home school.
I enviously eavesdropped as home schoolers talked about their 4-hour school days and various extracurricular activities. None of which involved sitting through a wrestling match for the last two hours of the school day or watching cheerleaders lead cheers about how our football team was number one.
Our football team was not number one, by the way. Obviously, no one wanted to admit that.
No, when it comes to most social activities, I find that I must be forced.
This was even true academically at times.
I must have been in a very overachieving mood the day I selected my senior year classes. I picked three Advanced Placement classes—English, Economics and Math. By the time the school year rolled around and I had to actually follow through on my decision, my self-confidence and willingness to exert myself had left me entirely.
I remember sitting in the counselor’s office begging to be moved to less-intensive courses.
He took one look at my above-average grades, and said, “No.”
I hyperventilated that evening to my parents, and they just looked at me and chalked it up to female hormones as they ate dinner.
I realized that I had dug my grave.
The girl I was six months ago was the one who pushed me then.
It was my parents who pushed me all through school to remain in public education.
“It will teach you endurance and make you stronger,” they said. “We all have to put up with situations that we don’t like sometimes.”
Well, they were right. As much as I wouldn’t admit it for a long time after.
So, I say–return little ones back to your lockers, pop quizzes and textbooks.
It will only improve your characters.
And give the rest of us time to rest.

Inner Questions Answered

August 3, 2011

There are times that I go an entire day without speaking to another human.
Not counting myself.
The inner dialoagues in my head are constant.
And that’s okay, I repeat to myself, as I leap over sidewalk cracks and count the number of lightposts between the grocery store and my front door.
When it becomes problematic is when my mouth gives voice to those inner conversations and suddenly I’ve gone from ‘mysterious, intellectual girl with a book’ at the coffee shop to ‘scary weirdo who is arguing with the table.’
I guess I shouldn’t wonder why I can’t ever find a dinner date.
So, while I may endeavor to temper my soul-searching discussions until I get home–for the sake of those around me–I refuse to believe there is anything substantially wrong with me.
I’ve often heard that talking to oneself is a sign of higher intelligence.
I choose to prescribe to that line of reasoning.
While I always excelled at school, I was never the top student, of course; geniuses hardly even make it through high school.
I made sure never to show up early to class or receive the top grade in my honors class or finish my summer reading assignments before June. I went above and beyond but not too far beyond. I revealed a capacity to learn as a genius should.
But also an uncanny ability to rebuff social rituals. As a genius also should. No one ever saw Einstein with a friend. Just his crazy hair and chalkboard.
I’m still waiting for my genius to be confirmed.
And when they finally are, I can’t say I will be overly surprised.
In all truthfulness, I will only sigh with relief and think Finally, the proof I’ve been waiting for.

Roses for the less-hurried

January 22, 2011

Time is a funny thing. I caught a glimpse of my high school graduation keyring from oh-so long ago–an item I cared so much about at the time–which catapulted me back momentarily to my awkward days of ill-fitting clothes, acne and general teenage insecurities that are only grown out of with time and experience. (For me, the baggage seeming to hang on for a painfully long time.)

I remember days that I would gaze in a sea of despair at my calendar, confirming the 85 dreadful days I had to travel before summer vacation. My growing anticipation and sure belief in the greatness of life after high school felt like a boiling pot inside of me waiting to overflow unless I pushed for the premature exit. Fortunately, I knew better.

And then, as it happens for most of us, life pushed me forward, and as slowly as it seemed at the time, I soon saw myself take my first final in college, finish my senior project and then grasp my diploma proudly, all in what seemed like a week’s time.

Life has a way of gripping us so tightly sometimes that we almost can’t grasp where are until we are on to our next challenge. Events swirl around and keep us occupied with tasks that are so important in the moment, making it a struggle to appreciate, or even acknowledge, what we are experiencing the moment we are experiencing it.

Roses really do have a wonderful scent. I, for one, plan to continue to stop and smell them.