It is amazing how quickly we adults forget . . . the exhilaration and the agony! Every possible emotion rolled into one giant ball of wriggling angst. Yes, we are talking about the first day of school, and it is just a few jittery days away!
Summer vacation starts with the greatest of possible childhood joys. Children look forward to it all year long, and the closer it gets the squirrelier they get! It is a season of endless potential, but three months can be a very long time. Many kids run through their beach bucket list in a few weeks, and before they know it, the doldrums of summer settle in and even school sounds good. By August, even hard-core school-haters look forward to backpacks and school lunches (even if they won’t admit it).
We adults easily forget all this, but kids are kids, and they need a purpose and structure, just like us adults. After a long summer, many children pine for the security and comfort school provides. I had a love-hate relationship with school. As much as I resented it, I needed it. I was one of those kids who showed up early every day and hung around after school after making myself a nuisance all day during class. Truth be told, school was my sanctuary, as it is for many of our children.
Admittedly, school is a bit more complicated than it was triple-ought years ago. Kids just can’t just show up on the first day with a couple of fat pencils and a Big Chief Tablet. (If you remember this, we are sharing a senior moment.) Nowadays, the average elementary school supply list reads more like a survival pack for preppers. This may make it more complicated for us adults, but for kids it is still about seeing their friends, navigating teachers’ personalities, and learning. And yes, they do think about learning. Each child yearns to be successful in school, just as all of us wish to be successful in our daily lives. Nevertheless, if they cannot be successful in the classroom or in competition, they will find other ways to excel (even if that means being the best troublemaker). Never doubt, however, that they will find their niche.
We like to think that kids are different nowadays, but kids are still kids, despite technology. So please be extra watchful for children the next few weeks as they get their minds back into school. Never assume that walkers or bike riders have seen you. Their minds are on other things, so count on them doing the opposite of what they should do. And for your safety, watch out for teenage drivers. Just think how distracted you used to get popping in another 8-track. Multiply that by about a thousand, because you are both probably on your smartphone. Come to think about it, driverless cars are already on the road, so maybe the automated ones won’t be such a leap for us.
We educators get just as jittery this time of year, so give us some slack, too. (For the record, all DPS staff are educators.) We are worried about many of the same things as the kids, including having somewhere to sit at lunch. In my short time at Duncan, however, I am beginning to sense that these anxieties fade quickly. This community has a special love for its schools, educators, and children. The outpouring for DPS staff during this in-service week has refreshed all of us. Thank you to all the churches and organizations who fed staff, donated supplies and simply wrapped your loving arms around us. I have never witnessed a more loving or affirming community. Your validation better equips all of us to care for this community’s children. Thank you for lessening our back-to-school jitters and may each of you share the joy and gratitude that we Duncan Demons all feel as a result!