The First Day of School
Tomorrow marks the first day of of the 2011-2012 school year for my children. It feels strange to write 2012 knowing that so much of 2011 is still left yet the new school year means that the sands of time are running…faster. Ok, they really aren’t running faster than normal but with the resurgence of school days, homework, soccer practice, gymnastics and all the other stuff it will move quickly.
In a few short hours the kids will be ensconced in classrooms with new teachers and I’ll be working out of this temporary office in our temporary home hoping that my things are temporarily lost. It is only a week since we left the old place and the usual contradiction of time has taken effect. It feels to me like we left the old house years ago and at the same time it feels like we haven’t left. If I didn’t know better I’d say that we are on vacation and that any day now we’ll go back and I’ll find all the things I am missing in the places that I kept them for the last ten years.
Ten years of life in that house gone in the blink of an eye. I never expected to be there as long as we were. It was supposed to be a starter home. When we bought it I was making a very nice living and qualified for a much larger mortgage but I wanted to be safe so I opted not to buy that other place, the one that I really loved. It was bigger, brighter and offered so very much. It seemed like a house that I could move into and live in forever, but I was conservative so I didn’t want to take that sort of risk on.
Every year since my son started school I have wondered if they would talk about the events of Â 9-11 in class. Every year I have asked about it because I was curious to find out when my son would learn about what happened that day. Up to now they really haven’t had any serious classroom discussion about it. He has been too young and we are so far away it is easier to dismiss. It is different for my nieces and nephews back east. They know families who lost loved ones, not one or two but many. They know of the day and that moment in a different way.
But it had a big impact upon me for a host of reasons most of which I have blogged about before. It hit me because I was supposed to be in the city. It hit me because my oldest friend had been working at Cantor Fitzgerald (he came home just a few days before) and almost everyone he worked with in that office died. It hit me because I remember watching my son build towers with blocks and while I watched people jump he knocked the block towers down and rebuilt them. It hit me because you can’t watch that kind of thing without being impacted by it.
I’ll never forget being in the city a few months later and seeing all of the flyers and posters of missing people. Some of them had become yellowed and tattered but I looked at them hard and wondered if they were pictures of the dead or the living.
Sometimes I look up at the moon and wonder about life. I stare at that big white orb and wonder if the magical and mystical force of my youth, that we saw on Star Wars exists. I think about Yoda and Obi-wan talking to Luke about it and how we are all tied together. I think about it and wonder about the future, destiny and our control over these things. I think about it and wonder how to harness it. Sometimes I wonder if some things are meant to be and if other things are going to be no matter what we do.
There are things and there are people that are broken. Some of them are obvious and others are less obvious. Given the choice, the power and the wisdom I would heal them. But these are things that you don’t learn in school. These are lessons that are taught by life and by experience. There aren’t any books that we can read or rely upon. Some times all we can do is use our judgment and our gut to try to make the wise choice and then we hope for the best.
Choices. So much of life relies upon the choices we make. Decisions are made with good intentions but good intentions don’t always lead to good outcomes.
Ten years ago I didn’t have a clue what life would look like now. I remember trying to figure it out. I remember staring off into the mists of time with clear eyes and a full heart hoping that would mean that I couldn’t lose. But Coach Taylor never told me how quickly things could turn so when life happened it was a bit of a shock. These days life doesn’t shock or surprise me as much as it used to. That is not because I am so wise or so jaded that it can’t happen. Just haven’t caught lightning in a jar lately, but something tells me that this is about to change.
Something tells me that we are on the verge of major upheaval. So I am gearing up to ride the tornado and to tame the storm. I am kind of excited by it all. Â A new school year and new beginnings. I wonder what we shall learn.
TheJackB September 8, 2011 at 12:30 am
@AdrienneSmith I am lucky, my kids love learning. I hope that they always feel this way about it. I suppose that we shall see.
I was never a huge fan of New York. I made it out to the city a bunch of times before 9-11 and thought that it was crowded and overpriced. But then I got to visit on an expense account and learned that there was a lot more to it.
It helped open my eyes to a lot of things and it also made it easier for me to recognize how many different kinds of people were impacted on that day. It was something else, to say the least.
AdrienneSmith September 7, 2011 at 10:33 am
I never enjoyed school so I’m definitely glad those days are behind me. Had a hard time learning so it wasn’t my most favorite place to go you know! Hope your kids don’ t feel that way.
Hope you’re settling in a little more in the new place. Don’t worry, you’ll eventually find everything. It will all come to the surface sooner or later.
I also remember what I was doing and where I was on 9/11. Never having ever been to New York I can’t imagine the devastation and all the hurt everyone was feeling. Just watching it on TV was enough for me. My heart hurt for weeks afterwards knowing what those families must have been going through not knowing if their loved ones made it out alive or not. Things sure have changed since then and I can’t believe we are going on ten years now.
I guess I’m kind of surprised that they aren’t mentioning it in school. This would be a good time to help kids understand but then again, I suppose we are back to everyone having their own opinions formed about this topic. Not sure if that would be good or bad!
TheJackB September 6, 2011 at 5:50 pm
@Hajra School kids can be so darn cruel. It is not right, but…. 9-11 changed so many things and most of it not in a good way. I really look for a time when we can get beyond much of the misunderstanding and hate that exists.
I am sorry that you were negatively impacted by it- that is just not right.
Hajra September 6, 2011 at 2:28 pm
Loved this post! 🙂
I hated school actually, was bullied once and was called nerd and “fat many times, so school brings back loads of weird memories. I liked college way better; it was fun, I was thinner and somehow I loved the things I was doing and the people I was meeting.
I was in Grade 11 when 9-11 happened and was saddened by what took place and what followed. I mean, the hate which followed, I have been a victim of it and being a Muslim I not only feel for what has been done in the name of religion and what impact that has caused. Some fundamentalists, ignorance and a lot of mishaps, is this what our future will learn and carry on their shoulders. In a world where we should be coming closer and fighting against bad as a whole, we are being constantly surrounded by the wrong impression and information in the name of religion… Sad actually.
TheJackB September 6, 2011 at 2:23 pm
@marianne.worley I remember “older people” telling me how excited I should be about school and how much easier it was than working. I really didn’t understand or appreciate that until I got into the working world.
As for what learning about tough subjects, well some of that I suppose is really based upon the child and their maturity level. There is also the matter of providing age appropriate details and descriptions.
I am not really looking forward to this conversation with the kids, but it is coming.
TheJackB September 6, 2011 at 12:47 pm
@BetsyKCross We do our best and hope for the best. I don’t much like saying that, but it appears to be the best way to take care of things. There is only so much that we can do to manage things so once you hit that point, I think it is ok to relax.
I like your 9 year-old’s attitude- I need to do more of that.
TheJackB September 6, 2011 at 12:45 pm
@Leon If the tornado grabs me it will probably fix a few of my problems or create new ones and one can never have too many problems. 😉
marianne.worley September 6, 2011 at 12:24 pm
I used to love the first day of school. Starting something new and full of promise…sigh. When college kids complain about how much they hate school and just want to finish up and get a job, I jump in and tell them that the real world isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. They should enjoy every minute of college life while they have the chance.
I’ve been watching 9-11 documentaries for the past few nights on the National Geographic and Smithsonian channels. Although I don’t want to, I feel like I’m already starting to forget the details of what happened. I was asleep until 7am Pacific and didn’t turn on the TV for another half-hour or so. At the time, my sister worked at the Department of Justice, maybe 6 blocks away from the WTC. I found out she had left right after the second plane hit and walked uptown to stay with friends because she couldn’t get back home to Brooklyn. So I just watched the news with the rest of the world.
I don’t know what the appropriate age is for learning about 9-11. I remember asking my mom about the Holocaust when I was 7, after hearing about it from commercials for the movie “Julia.” She explained it to me in simple terms, and I understood. I suppose 7 was the right age for me, but maybe not the right age for other kids.
BetsyKCross September 6, 2011 at 9:17 am
I love this post. I’m so done trying to figure out what the best choices are…we’ve made both kinds and some worked out. Others not so much.
My attitude is starting to wear off on even the most emotional of my children. My 9-yr-old was going to homeschool until the day before school started here. She didn’t do the assigned summer reading ’cause she thought it didn’t matter. Usually she’d rant and rave about how mad the teacher would be and how she’d be consigned to detention for the rest of 4th grade! But instead she said, “Let’s not worry about it right now. It really doesn’t matter. We’ll figure it out tomorrow. Let’s just play.”
When I explained to my son that a tornado could pick you up and drop you far away (they love Wizard of Oz) he smiled and sais, “Cool!”
Leon September 6, 2011 at 9:04 am
G’Day Jack, Good Luck with the new school year. And if that tornado does suck you up, lie back and enjoy the vibrations. That’s all.