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On School in the Fall

Reading to her Jeddy bear.  Ready for school? :P

As the brisk midnight air wafts in through my bedroom window, my mind drifts back several decades to the hallowed halls of my first years in school.  Fall was a magical season, from getting new school supplies and clothes to anticipating which cute boys would be in my class.  The familiar smells of Mr. Sketch would make me giddy, as would those initial days and weeks when everything was novel and unknown; the air was ripe with potential for the year to be great. As back-to-school bulletin boards changed predictably from apples and leaves to cornucopia and turkeys, followed by witches and black cats and jack-o-lanterns, my excitement would grow and grow. My chubby young fingers would inevitably be drawn to the colourful border trim, as well as tracing the grooves along the off-white concrete cinder block walls as I headed in and out for recess.  Every change of the displays preceded another upcoming holiday and season, and the ensuing festivities were always the highlights of my year.  It was an exciting adventure to go to school, to see what each day and week would bring.  I loved wandering down the hallways, particularly to areas of the school I wouldn't ordinarily frequent over the course of the day, to see how each teacher and class decorated their bulletin boards to mark the various occasions.  School at that age was a truly magical time, and being there was being in my element.

It is little wonder, then, that I ended up being an educator.  I think that, after falling in love with school at the tender age of 6, there really wasn't another better career path for me.  Of course, the duty of being the responsible teacher of a classroom was a far cry from the awe of being at school as a child.  Though some of the excitement for Mr. Sketch markers and new school supplies remained, entering the classroom or navigating the hallways wasn't quite the magical adventure that it once had been.  Instead of admiring seasonal bulletin boards, I found myself dreading the ordeal of having to re-cover, and replace, existing ones (although I would usually derive great pleasure from the finished products).  The thrill of simply enjoying the seasonal festivities was replaced by a burden to create experiences and celebrations that would be magical and wonderful for my students, and so often I would find myself caught up in the logistics of organizing these things.  The only reprieve from my "teacher mode" mentality came during recess times, when supervising outside meant I could enjoy the crunching leaves under my feet and the delighted squeals and shouts of children at play.  Then I would be brought back to the days of my youth, and some of that lost giddiness would come flooding back into my mind and my heart, revitalizing me for yet another week of creating magic for the little ones in my care.

Now that I am a SAHM seeing life through the eyes of Little L, I cannot help but wonder what the fall season will look and feel like once she is in school.  As I see things from the perspective of mommy, will my perceptions of the fall season mirror those of childhood or those of my teaching years? Will the purchasing and packing of new school supplies give me as much pleasure as it once did? Will I get giddy again as I meander through the hallways, admiring the displays and anticipating the fun that another holiday season will bring? Will seeing things as a parent trump seeing things as a teacher, or will my teacher brain unintentionally, automatically think about pedagogy and learning outcomes, as my training instinctively compels me to do? 

Hard to know until I am walking my baby girl into her classroom and leaving her there for the day, I realize.  But as the cool breeze of the season drifts into my bedroom, this is where my mind goes.  And I am thankful that I have had so many different, and positive, experiences with school, and thankful for the ones to come. 

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