Well, it’s that time of year again! We are anxiously waiting for our daughter to start high school next week. With concerns of Covid, I have mixed emotions on her going back to school. I am torn between excited and worried. It’s a new chapter in her life and we are all anticipating how it will go.
She is pumped, and very much wanting some structure back in her life. Most of all, she can’t wait to see her friends and make some new ones. In all honesty, I am crafted, puzzled, and baked out. This, ‘Mother, The Entertainer,’ is looking forward to a break. With six months of isolation at home, we are all ready, scared, but ready! I so appreciate school, all the teachers, and the structure it gives our family. Structure is the key to calmness.
I have had plenty of time to reflect over the last handful of months. As my daughter embarks on her journey into high school, I have reminisced over her time in elementary school. I would say it was successful. Sure, there were some hiccups along the way, but for the most part it went well. Academically and socially she developed and grew. She had some amazing, and some not-so-amazing teachers. She made some wonderful friends, and some friends we could do without. She made some good decisions, along with some bad ones. She constantly amazed us with her drive to do well, her attention to detail, creativity, and her ease with numbers and formulas.
I’ve wondered what lasting memories she’ll savor. What will her elementary years mean to her? What will she recall, 30 years from now? Will she have a favourite teacher, or a favourite lesson? Who made a positive impact on her? Whose negative ways left a mark? What was her best day, and what was her worst? What is she most proud of, and what will make her smile internally for years to come?
The thought made me curious as to what I remembered from my own days in elementary school. What memories did I hold on to? I wrote down the memories that came to mind from kindergarten to grade 8, and this is what I came up with.
- I won the homemade hat contest. Yay for me!
- I had a staple embeded into my knee during floor reading time. This hurt.
- I liked to eat the glue, and I wasn’t the only one.
- Dean barfed right behind my desk all over the floor. It was the largest amount of vomit I had ever witnessed. Chunky and cream coloured. I can still visualize it today. It devastated me.
- I worked with the speech therapist. Fank goodness!
- We had a new student, Yen, from Cambodia. Yen did not speak any English when she first arrived, however, by the end of the school year she was fluent and the smartest kid I knew. I admired her!
- Bobby puked on the tile floor and it splashed everywhere. I remember closing my eyes and plugging my ears until it was cleaned up. It was disgusting and made me feel icky.
- My music teacher Ms. Hate lived up to her name. Along with her caked-on eye shadow, she was something special. If you didn’t sing the way she wanted, she would single you out. I was one of those kids. I remember it was Bobby (yes, the puker from grade 2) and I, who could not sing high enough. She made us stand up next to our desks and try again. Still insufficient, I ended up having to stand on the top of my desk to belt out the lyrics. I was mortified.
- I peed my pants on picture day. I can explain why, but I won’t. I was humiliated.
- I was invited with some other kids to the Principal’s office for a job well done. He rewarded us with an apple slice. He had his own special apple slicer. I felt special.
- My classroom was in a portable.
- I was stung by a wasp while sitting at my desk. This was scary.
- My teacher was great! Mr. Miller, you made learning fun.
- We moved, and I attended a new school. I hated Grade 6! I was bullied for the first time in my life. I cried every day for months, begging my parents not to make me go. I was anxiety-ridden and depressed.
- I said, ‘this movie is fucked up,’ out loud during a class video and was never reprimanded. I felt cool!
- My teacher was the kindness, loving human! Mr. Parrot, you made a difference!
- I became interested in boys. Butterflies and googly eyes.
- My teacher was a perv. Gross, and uncomfortable.
- Gym was overruled with square dancing. The song, ‘King of the Road,’ still haunts me.
- Most of my class showed up to see me compete at a dance competition. I was surprised, embarrassed and grateful.
- Dru peed in his tuba on the last day of music class. This was both disgusting and hilarious.
- I had my first official, ‘boyfriend’. I was giddy and smitten.
- For graduation I wore a dress that resembled something from Laura Ingalls wardrobe.
- My teacher was amazing! Mr. Bauer, you were awesome!
From this exercise I realized a few things. I clearly had a phobia of vomit, the glue must have been really yummy for me to remember it, and the majority of my memories stemmed from how something made me feel. I was surprised with how many had a negative emotion attached to them. It is fascinating what we hold on to, and what we let go of. I don’t recall the actual act of learning academics in elementary school, but I do recall what I gained from my experiences. Many of my experiences helped mold and create the person I am today.
I truly hope my children have more positive than negative memories. However, I don’t want them to be afraid of the negative ones, they build character, we learn from them, and they strengthen who we are.
These years come and go so quickly. I’ve often reminded my kids, that these school years are only a small fragment of their story, I particularly reinforce this on tough days. I also know that the older you get, the wiser you are, and this gives you more power in the outcome of your memories.
With my daughter heading off to high school, I can’t wait to witness her growth. I cannot wait to find out what her future has in store, and what memories she’ll make.