The start of another school year is always bittersweet. The sun is still shining as summer whispers, “wait don’t go.” While the freedom that summer break brings to kids is nothing short of sheer joy, the anticipation of a fresh start and seeing your friends can’t help but create excitement. New haircuts and pencils and outfits and shoes; kids are almost running to get start line. No matter your age, we’ve all gone through the emotions of the first day of school and for most, it’s exhilarating. There’s just something about a clean slate that fills us with hope for what the new school year will bring. Who was you first teacher? Your first crush? Your first date to the dance? Do your kids know the answers to these questions? When’s the last time you stopped to think about your memorable moments of school before adulthood and real responsibility crept in? My first teacher was Mrs. Murphy and she had a reputation of being tough. In reality, she taught us structure and supported us and loved us in her own way. I loved Mrs. Murphy, but don’t push her buttons! I refused to wear anything but dresses and pink and white saddle shoes every day. My mother said she tried to get me to pick the black ones but I wasn’t having it. Each day I’d come home disheveled, from the activities at recess. A dress wasn’t going to stop me from playing hard. I moved a few times growing up so I connect each of my school years to a certain place I was living at the time. It helps me remember the little things. The first time I was picked on was 5th grade in Alamosa, CO. A boy teased me because of my arm hair. I was swinging on a swing and waited for him to get close enough and kicked him to the ground. Although I don’t condone school yard scuffles, that one felt good. He never said a word to me again.
School is a weird fish bowl that helps us learn and navigate social behaviors. There are these moments sprinkled throughout our childhood that expose micro scenarios of discrimination, comradery, injustice and justice all while learning long division. When’s the last time you thought about your experiences and where are you keeping these stories? We’ve got a place for them.