Paula-Loves-Marla's Blog

Observations about Art, Movies, Books, etc.

Back To School – Different Times, Experiences & Circumstances

Today is my girls’ first day back to school for the 2010/2011 school year. Lots of kids started back last week and some won’t start until after Labor Day, but very soon all the little (and not so little) monsters will be back in class to broaden their horizons.

As I attended the middle school orientation on Thursday of last week I thought about how different my own middle school experience was from that of my daughters.

First off, there was no such thing as orientation back when I went to school. We were thrown in without much in the way of guidance as to where our classes were, how to use our lockers or anything else except for our schedules. The first twenty minutes of our time in home room for my girls was spent going over the school map and how to open a combination lock. They even gave them their locker assignments and combinations!!! We didn’t have lockers until a week after we started school!

I brought my older daughter (who’s in 8th grade this year) along to orientation to help out in finding my younger daughter’s classes. There are diagonal hallways in their school which throws me off completely. Apparently I can only think in 90 degree angles. At least my offspring will have had the 45 degree experience and will thus be more evolved creatures than their mother.

The goal at orientation (for my girls) was for the kids to be able to open their lockers three times and run their schedule twice in the half hour allotted after they released us from home room. It was made very clear that if we were unable to do that, we still needed to leave post haste at the appointed time. With fifty million parents, students and siblings crowding the lockers of the sixth grade hallway (hereafter referred to as the gauntlet) we gave up after period three.

We checked out the 8th grade hallway and showed my littler Who where the lunchroom was and vamoosed on out of there before the 2:30 exodus.

Both of my daughters saw some of their friends (and a couple enemies) while we negotiated the halls so at least there was some familiarity there to offer some comfort when they begin the school year. I can’t wait to hear about their day.

The county where I grew up was in the midst of bussing (as well as the tail end of the oil embargo) when I went off to middle school. The transportation schedule was especially rigorous because the school system was one of the last in the country to segregate and therefore the punishment was more severe. Unfortunately we students were made to pay for the sin of segregation even though we were in no way responsible for it.

We were a bunch of “Mayberry” kids shipped off to the ‘hood in order to balance out the county color wheel. The kids whose school we were being bussed into were not thrilled by our presence and made that amply clear from the first day until the last. We had entered the war zone and someone forgot to tell us to pack our flak jackets.

I am thankful every single day that my kids’ school is tough academically but that they don’t face actual combat on a daily basis. Probably the most challenging things they have to deal with at school are snobbery and ignorance (still ugly human behaviors but they don’t require stitches). Middle school is an adjustment for everyone. It’s where they learn to deal with difficult people, exercise tolerance, learn how to gauge who can be trusted and who can’t. Difficult people are something we all have to deal with at school, work and out in public. My kids at least won’t have to learn self defense while they juggle class work and their social environment.

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