Saturday, August 18, 2012
New Shoes, Do's, and Attitudes
Well friends, school has officially started in my world. I feel like I should be saying, "I'm ready for it!" "I'm sooooo excited!" "Bring it ON!" "2012-2013 is gonna be a GREAT year!"
But if I'm being really honest here (which is pretty much my intent with this entire blog thing), I have just got to admit that my thoughts have been less of the former, and more along the lines of.... "School- Schmool" and "Who's idea was it to send us back to school in the middle of summer!?"
And on Wednesday, when I waltzed into the well manicured building with sparkling waxy floors and colorful welcome signs adorning every doorway and saw the shiny, happy faces of our 200+ cherubs, I found myself thinking "I wonder if the 'Honeymoon' could possibly last a whole month this year?" Maybe I'm just a natural pessimist. Or maybe after ten years as a school counselor, I have just learned that this 1st day phenomenon (or really, first week phenomenon in some cases) will quickly pass.
That morning, I watched the students eagerly congregate at their lockers-- all smiles as they reunited with peers they hadn't seen for weeks (or probably a few days in this small town). I couldn't help but notice the adorable new haircuts and bright new shoes that crossed my path. (I will say, the brighter the better seems to be the theme this year in the shoe department) Every shoe was shiny, clean, and incredibly bright. It was like the shoe put that bounce in kids' steps that day. I imagined conversations with parents about why this particular pair of shoes was the "must have" this year. (I remembered shoe shopping with my own dad for that perfect pair of tennis shoes--Dad always was in charge of shoe shopping-- after all, he had once worked in the JC Penney shoe department!) What is it about new school shoes? There is something about them that marks the beginning of a new school year like hearing "Auld Lang Syne" marks the beginning of a new calendar year.
Like most new beginnings, we're filled with hope and expectations and possibilities. We try to believe this is going to be the best year yet. But as time passes, and frustrations mount, and disappointments accumulate, it becomes difficult to maintain that positive energy and spirit. And, funny enough, it's like those school shoes reflect these feelings. It only takes a moment before they have lost their luster. Their bright color begins to fade, dust and dirt and grime collect in the grooves, and ..... as the year progresses, the shoes continue to deteriorate-- some even develop holes, tears, or mysterious unpleasant odors. Toward the last day of school, it's clear that these shoes are on their way out-- as big toes poke through the front, and the rubber sole is comes lose from the bottom. And sadly, I think a lot of our school kids mirror these shoes by the last day of school. They look tired and worn out just like their shoes. (A lot smell kinda funny too but I think that's just part of growing up.)
I wish there was some way to harness the smiles, the energy, and the enthusiasm of the first week of school. I wish there was some way for the shoes (and more importantly, the kids) to not wear out. Unfortunately, I think public schools put a great deal of stress on kids-- kids who are already dealing with more home/ "real life" stress than previous generations ever have. But fortunately, I'm in a position to maybe remind kids of that "new year" energy, the potential they have, and the accomplishments they undoubtedly will make. It's so easy to lose sight of the "new shoe" hiding under that worn out piece of canvas/cotton/ mesh. But this year, I want to strive to remember it throughout the year-- and perhaps make a difference.