Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Back to School

It’s that time of year again - back to school. I was one of those kids who used to love going back to school. I got really excited about it. There was something about the fresh notebooks, the smell of paper and having brand new pencil crayons that really did it for me. It’s been a long time since I was in school, but I still find the beginning of September exciting. It always feels like a new start. I love the way the seasons change, with the leaves turning colour and the air getting crisper, but also how summer pops back for a visit every once in a while in those unexpected hot and sunny days of Indian summer. Coming from North America, I still think of Autumn as Fall, although I rarely call it that as people in England can get quite touchy about the use of that word. I don’t know why it evokes such passion, especially as one theory is that the British originally used a word similar to Fall in old English. It was “faellen” because of the fall of the leaves and they used it to mean “Autumn”. However, apparently later on we were influenced by the French and their word “Automne” and began to use an anglicised version of it - “Autumn” - instead. Whatever it is called though, it is one of my favourite seasons.

This is a very different back to school year for me as my son is now headed for Sixth Form College, where he will be doing AS and A Level studies before heading to university. For the first time in over ten years, there is no “first day of school” - it is the first day of college, and there will never be a first day of “school” again. Where did that time go? I remember my son’s first day of school as if it were yesterday. Unlike a lot of the other mums, I was not sad; I was excited because it was a new chapter in my son’s life and also in mine. I feel excited like that now too, but I’m a bit nervous as well. Now my son is at college, it’s time to reinvent myself and my role as a 21st Century Housewife, and reinvention is always a challenge, albeit an exciting one. Watch this space!

This time of year really does bring back memories. I remember my own first day of school as if it were yesterday too, walking to school with my Mom the first day of Kindergarten. I remember how it felt to walk down the street holding her hand. We’d swing our arms, and laugh and sing. I miss my Mom a lot, especially at times like these.

I’ve forgotten my teacher’s name, but I remember I liked her. She was pretty and kind, and made school seem like a fun place to be. I also remember that she was a fast runner. One of my fellow Kindergarten attendees did not like the idea of school at all, and ran away, rushing off down the street to go home. She shot off down the street after him, and brought him back (sadly kicking and screaming, but he was persuaded to settle down eventually). Aside from all the excitement, that day was the beginning of a love affair with learning for me. I still enjoy learning new things, and the excitement of discovering something new is even more wonderful than it was all those years ago.

This time of year is still a time I really enjoy, even if I have no plans to go back to school myself. The natural world may be slowing down, but in so many ways this time of year is a new beginning. So try not to mourn the ending of summer - instead go on and enjoy this new season of fresh starts - we all need one of those from time to time. And if one of your little ones is starting school for the first time this year, cherish the day they do in your heart - even if it is tinged with sadness. With a bit of luck in years to come they will remember their first day of school as well and as fondly as I do!

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