Getting That Book Learnin

The nation has recently breathed a collective sigh of relief this past week. Parents are loving this time of the year as their brood finally get off the game consoles and computers and couches and away from the TVs as they head back to a place where someone else gets to take care of them for a while. Yes, school has resumed and while the kids— for the most part— hate it, parents love it. My grandson started kindergarten this year and, from all reports, loves it. I, on the other hand, find myself a bit melancholy about the whole thing.

I was not one of those kids who lived for school. You know them: the over-achievers, the kids in the advanced classes who completed the entire textbook’s worth of homework by the second week of school. These people took pride in throwing the grading curve the wrong way and knew by the eighth grade what career they were going to study for in college. To add insult to injury, they probably graduated from college with full honors in three years. Not me. I was a show-up-and-hope-I-didn’t-get-called-on-in-class kid who couldn’t be bothered by things like homework and had no clue of what I wanted to do with my life. This club has evidently grown to a majority these days, based on what I see in the schools.

I can’t remember my first day of school. If I could, I would probably have been one of those over achievers. I do remember my first day of high school. I also remember my first day of college—not the first night, mind you—just the first day. The second morning is a bit iffy, too. That first day of high school, though, that is etched in my mind. Well, most of it—it was more than 30 years ago, after all. Some of the etching has eroded.

The bus ride that morning—an hour earlier than I was used to—seemed to take forever. I was actually looking forward to getting to the school. Not going to class, mind you; just getting to the school. Once I toured the campus, I would have been fine with going back home to bed. Unfortunately, I had to actually sit through the class schedule (and this is where my memory gets fuzzy: I don’t remember my schedule) before I could go home. It was with great excitement that I first wandered the halls of Humble High School and I promptly realized I had no clue which hall I was supposed to wander down. Fortunately, the administration posted signs to direct us new freshman. New school, new teachers, new clothes, new books and of course new homework welcomed us that day. Of course, once the newness wore off, I no longer looked forward to going to school.

In fact, I didn’t look forward to going to school again until I entered my 2nd freshman year of college at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock when I was 32. My first freshman year was at Stephen F. Austin State in 1982 and I had not developed an appreciation for higher (or any) learning. Now, more than 10 years after graduating, I want to go back to school again. I get jealous hearing about the kids going back to school and learning new things while I go to work every day.

So, while the kids (most of them anyway) moan and groan and the parents cheer, I will be shaking my head and wishing I was a student again. If everything goes as planned, I will be next year. Here’s hoping. Until then, I still go to work and watch the kids lining up at the bus stop or walk to school and wish it was me.

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