Ivy greeted me very enthusiastically this morning. It had been a while since we had seen each other and she wanted me to know she had missed me, at least that’s the spin I am going to take. It was just after five with the moon sliding over the horizon and the sun was beginning to creep up, just enough light to cast a faint light in the yard. It is the time in summer when the days are getting shorter and evening’s dark before nine. It can only mean one thing, school’s back.
I have been waiting in anticipation for this day all summer long, with part excitement and part dread. It is exciting to teach kids, especially seventh grade kids. It was thirty-seven years ago that I was a seventh grader. That sounds older than it really is though I work with teachers who aren’t thirty-seven years old and I work with a few who rub me for being young. I was in the building for a meeting Monday and talking in the front office with the office staff and a couple of teachers, when one of the administrative assistants in the school office kidded me, “Hey, Mr. Watkins when are you going to grow up?” and I replied, “Never.” I hope I never lose the ability to laugh and giggle and be just a little bit on the silly side.
It has been a great summer, truly. I counted the other day and I was in six states this summer, one state more than last, and one country fewer. However, summer is not measured in miles travelled or places visited, but in the memories one takes from those miles and places. Last week, Olivia and I visited my mom, brothers, and most of my ‘Texas family.’ It was a great visit. My mom lives in the same house I grew up in from kindergarten to high school and beyond. I got to visit a few places and even stopped by my old elementary school and sniffed around. Lakeview Elementary has changed but remained the same, like an anchor holding me in place. I remember all of the teachers I had there: first grade -Pricadik, third grade – Bass, fourth grade – Drabek, and fifth grade – Earnest. I missed second grade at Lakeview when we lived in Venezuela, but I came back and finished school in the same district with the same kids. I ate in few restaurants from my youth – Goode Company whose slogan is ‘You might give some serious thought to thanking your lucky stars you’re in Texas’ and Gaido’s a one hundred year old tradition along the Galveston Seawall. But, the rest of the time was spent visiting and poring over the thousands of slides and pictures my dad and mom took as we grew up. I digitized the slides and scanned many of the pictures, my brother David is going to pick up where I left. It was great sitting with my mom and sometimes my brothers looking at slides with kids in them and others with no one at all. It brought back so much and it is one of those summer memories I will treasure as I head into this school year.
Olivia and I came home Saturday night and spent Sunday, Monday, and most of Tuesday as sole companions. William, Beth, and Ivy were in Michigan squeezing the last fun out of summer, too. They came home (grudgingly) late last night. I spent my last day of summer finishing a couple of projects I should have completed earlier, much earlier in the summer. It was good to bring an end to summer and sit and think about the coming year. It is going to be a great year, but I plan to take it in small chunks, and make it the best year ever, maybe even a million and six times better than last year! Making the Days Count, one day at a time even on the first day.
I realize that school provides a natural end to summer for me, but when does your summer end and how do you deal with it?