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  • Writer's pictureLise Parton

Back To School Time!

As Fall approaches and the calendar flips over to September, many people and families gear up to prep and head back to school. In the western world it is an age-old ritual even as the world is evolving into a more technology-based system… never mind the new grading system that seems to mimic the metamorphosis of a butterfly more than a grading assessment for youth...


Back to School Time!

As Fall approaches and the calendar flips over to September, many people and families gear up to prep and head back to school. In the western world it is an age-old ritual even as the world is evolving into a more technology-based system… never mind the new grading system that seems to mimic the metamorphosis of a butterfly more than a grading assessment for youth.

Families prepare and shop for school supplies, new clothes and other needed items for the new school year. In the swirl of emotions, parents often await with bated breath for their youngsters to get back into school so they can get back to their "normal" life at the end of the summer vacation, usually a hands-on overwhelm for two months, for many. Kids are mostly excited, but can harbour a certain level of expected anxiety as they approach new classes, new teachers, new friends and new experiences.

A long time, and I mean a long time, out of those days of attending elementary and high school days myself, I am still “ hood”, never mind even in the city where I attended elementary and high schools, I am committing to drive several hours from where I live now to head back to the city where I grew up.

At this age, it takes more energy for me to travel and attend the event, but I am still looking forward to it. It will be nice to see so many familiar faces, (all be it, the much more mature versions) of the people I grew up with. My elementary school and my high school were build next to each other, and so, many of the kids I played with as a very young child on the streets, were the same peeps I went into high school classes with. A couple are still friends today, several decades later.

As funny as it is, I am most excited to see those young acquaintances and friends that lived on the cluster of blocks around the school...the kids I played Hide and Seek with, or Kick The Can with on late afternoons and dimming evenings in the neighbourhood. I am especially looking forward to seeing my bestie that lived two doors away, a girl that I have lost touch with in my adult years, even as I will always carry the warm and adventurous childhood memories from so many parts of our young years. I will remember the string pulley system with a bell that we rigged up outside each of our bedroom windows so that we could pass each other notes and little treats we saved from our homes to share with each other. I will remember the games we played, including the fort and club we formed under a low hanging red maple tree, we affectionately called, the Red Tree Club. We used to crawl under there and giggle and share time together. I remember my brother had a proper wooden-built tree fort in our back yard, and we girls, not to be outdone had our red tree fort, which left us hidden from everyone by the low hanging branches that touched the ground.

I will remember the gaggle of young girls in a two block radius that I played Barbie with, because we all had our compliment of those popular dolls, obviously still popular today. I remember I had an original pony-tailed Barbie, a Ken, Scooter, Ricky, and Madge, with many fabulous, homemade, elaborate dresses and outfits my grandmother, bless her heart, made for me. Many of them were spectacular, with several made with highly decorated bling, fancy materials, buttons and pearls!

As for school days, well, I will remember the Sadie Hawkins Days in high school where the girls asked the guys to go to the dance...and I will affectionately remember one special fellow who, in Grade 5, I was so sweet on. He asked me to an art gallery opening downtown at the end of the summer, and so, when I returned from my summer activities at my lake and got all dressed up to meet him, I remember he came to pick me up at the house and, it appeared, that I had grown several inches that summer, which left me taller than he. It was an embarrassing shock for both of us in that moment. To this day, I don't remember the exhibit, I just remember his smiling face looking up at me as he arrived at my front door all dressed up, followed by the uncomfortable sense of shock following, because I had grown in height over the summer months. Ah, the trials and tribulations of youth.

I remember square ball and blacktop games in elementary school, and hanging out on breaks along the road in high school to admire the parade of muscle cars and first cars as we all grew up and many started to drive in our teens.

And memories of past school reunions…well, I have a doozy!

On one of our earliest reunions I was in that time of my life when everything was a whirlwind, with work, a house, a husband and kids, blah, blah, blah, you know the drill. On the particular night my school reunion was planned I was expected to attend one of my parents’, best friends’, daughter’s engagement party at a well-know social club downtown. These people were multi-millionaires and it was to be ‘quite the high-society, no holes barred’ event for their daughter. This family is close to mine and kindly hosted my own engagement party around their pool in their home a few years prior. Needless to say, my attendance was mandatory. I was upset because I was truly looking forward to my high school reunion that same night.

Obviously, I went to the downtown engagement party and made sure I had put in a pretty decent and appropriate showing for all concerned. Then I dashed off to catch up with my classmates at the reunion, which was being held at the high school.

As I approached the school, I saw all the cars lining the roads leading up to the school. Good, I thought to myself, everything is still in full swing! I parked the car and wandered into the nearest open door that lead to the school cafeteria. There were the rows of tables with drink cups and plates of food, half or full-eaten on their surfaces. The chairs were askew and so many people had been in this room, they just were not there now!

Not a sound of a single human could be heard. Okay, this was feeling quite surreal, at this point. Now I have to explain I had consumed a couple bevies at the event, but was not inebriated, but it still felt a little like I was losing my mind in that moment. Where were all my classmates?

Off I went into the school halls in search of the entire group of classmates. Where on earth could they go? They had to be there somewhere, and so, I kept searching.

I wandered along, noticing the familiarity in the old school lockers and the aging classrooms. With a smile as I recalled several memories, I checked each area, the cobwebs of my brain slowly clearing as to where I was located in the school. Finally, I ran into a man sweeping the hall floors, and, after a quick greeting, I asked him where everyone was attending the school reunion, to which he replied, “they are all in the cafeteria.” Nope, I knew that they were not. I thanked him and returned to the cafeteria anyway.

Still, I heard nothing and no one, and so I went outside, deciding instead to search the school grounds for any evidence of my old classmates. Lo and behold, one followed by another started trickling around the corner from the front of the school. Apparently, they had decided to take a group photo of everyone who was in attendance at the reunion on the steps by the massive front doors. Needless to say, I see that photo when it gets posted at each upcoming reunion, and really wish I had been a part of it. Oh well, I did still manage to have a great time that evening connecting with my classmates after that little surreal blip.

This year, I am quite happy to be making the effort to see my classmates again, at least, to see the ones attending. As the years stretch out, it is always a sad fact that some move away and some have just tragically slipped away.

I am secretly hoping that my classmates aren't too shocked that I am more filled-in version as a woman of a “mature” age now. The “Twiggy” that I was in my youth is no longer present, partially because these past few years have been filled with some pretty tough changes...but also because the creative spirit in me has been gleefully unleashed and I am spending a lot of time writing which is certainly not a physical exertion activity, as you may well imagine. The more creative I am, the less I move, (except of course, my overworked, getting worn out, 10 hand-digits)! I’m sure many people at our reunion will however, be looking fabulous, but if not, well, it matters not, for life happens…we are, after all, several decades older now!

With my head in the Back to School frame of mind, I am sharing a poem on my basic thoughts of those days we can all relate to. I hope you enjoy my lighthearted poem, Returning To The Halls.

Cheers! Lise


Returning To The Halls

It is the time of year,

When so many return to the halls,

A new cycle of learning awaits,

On the old, established dates each fall.

Excitement and apprehension,

And uncertainty may fill our minds,

As we gear up to return to classes,

Leaving all of our summer freedoms behind.

We wonder about our upcoming teachers,

We wonder about our peers and friends,

We wonder about meeting new people,

And we wonder about clothing trends.

We wonder if people will like us,

We wonder if we will fit in,

There are so many questions and thoughts,

When a new cycle of school begins.

Sometimes things are mostly familiar,

As we attend another year in the same place,

But sometimes we have moved up or transferred,

Bringing feelings of uncertainty we need to face.

In any event we must attend,

And find ourselves returning to the halls,

For another year of education and learning,

With a plethora of new classes within school walls.

By Lise Parton

* photo by deleece cook on unsplash

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