Friday, September 5, 2014

New Beginnings at Summer's End

“Come on.”  My younger sister led the way as we exited the school bus and walked towards one of the many buildings on the sprawling Bryant high school campus.

"See y’all, later.” A young boy with a newly shaved, strikingly purple head waved as he headed the opposite direction.

  “Are you sure this is right?” As a senior, I lacked the poise I wanted to display.    

  "Don’t you remember? We came here to register a week or so ago. I know that the office is in this building, and they will give us our schedules and help us get where we are going.” Oh to have the confidence of a fifteen year-old.

 Somehow I made it through that first day at a new school. All of the kids were very friendly, and seemed to have sympathy for the girl with the funny accent who didn’t quite know how to dress.

 My sister and I met up for the next to last period of the day in the band building, which the other musicians informed us had previously been used for home economics. Finally, some kids I could speak to, who understood the universal language of music. I felt a new confidence, though the twenty-six members of this group would have fit on the first row of the bleachers when my hometown Kansas band played at a football game.

  “How do you like your classes?” My sister and only friend asked, between animated conversations with the fellow members of the brass section.

 “They seem fine, except for English.” I motioned to her to come closer, not wanting to offend our new acquaintances. “My teacher was talking about concentrating on grammar, and the weekly spelling test. That’s nothing like our old school.”

 My sister shrugged. ”It’ll all work out.”

After the final bell, I met her under the awning, and prepared to walk to where the bus had dropped us off. Having always lived too close to the school, this was my first experience with riding the big yellow conveyance. This was a smaller district. How hard could it be?

  This time, even sister seemed at a loss as we surveyed row after row of identical vehicles. “Do you know our bus number?” She asked quietly, as we observed tiny first graders with numbers pinned to their shirts.

 “Follow that onion-head!” I caught sight of the friendly boy from our neighborhood, and we raced to keep up as he wove his way through the mob to find our ride home.

The rest of the week was steadily better, with the newly memorized bus number in my head. On Friday, I mustered up the courage to speak to the very nice English teacher, who negotiated my change from the Freshman Basic English class to the Senior Advanced course I belonged in.

 Today, that campus is more modern, still very spread-out, and I would guess, still quite intimidating to those arriving from a different school district. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

 This year, my three oldest grandchildren are all entering  new schools. The oldest is changing from an elementary within walking distance of his house to a junior high that is just a little beyond safe bike riding territory. The ability to “be prepared” that he learned in Boy Scouts seems to be serving him well, as he seems much less worried about the adjustments than his mother is.

The third grader informed me that he has four teachers at his new school, though he is not really sure why. “Do they each have a different subject to teach?” I asked him. “Is one teaching English, and the others something else?”

 “No,” he explained, with that patient, ‘poor Granny’ look. “None of them speaks to us in another language.”

The first grader seems to be taking it all in stride, and will undoubtedly help all of us make it through the year. Her major concern seems to be choosing the proper outfit and accessories for each day.

 Of course, the youngest grand is content to stay home for now, preparing for his new T-Ball career as a Lug-nut. (That is really the name of his Texas team!) No back to school jitters are evident there.

Facebook friends are posting pictures of triumphant looking college freshmen, and long faced new empty nesters on “Move-in” day. These fence straddlers will use every chance to sway back and forth between confident young adults and needy teenagers especially when there is laundry to be done, or their dorm supply of snacks runs low.

It’s all part of the season. We look forward to cooler, more football friendly weather, to pumpkin patches and chrysanthemum corsages. Soon, we will be making plans for holiday get-togethers. Even though our summer was unusually agreeable this year, we are ready. Bring on that Ouachita Autumn. We’re always up for a change.