I won’t even regale you with the traffic I must repeatedly suffer through each morning as parents slow down to drop their kids off at school, often not bothering to pull over to the curb. It’s ghastly. I have a small window of opportunity, about 15 minutes, in which I can get in the car and make a mad dash for work, but if I miss it, I’m toast. I might as well throw in the towel.
To give you a better picture, I have a K-4 elementary school that is catty-corner to where I live, a middle school two blocks to the south, a high school four blocks to my north and another school, just for 5th and 6th graders, is due west of me, somewhere between the public library and the rec center. Which was all well and good when my own kids were in school, because you couldn’t beat the convenience, Lord knows. After all, it was great for my kids to be able to walk to school and not have to pay the extra fees for them to take the bus.
FullSizeRender-3Well, these schools are constant reminders of what I no longer have: young children to see off to school each morning. Little kids who need me to pack them a lunch, help them with their homework, or help them memorize their lines for a play about the California Gold Rush days. Nor do I need to provide assistance in creating a miniature replica of one of the California missions or fashion a doll to look like an historic figure such as Louisa May Alcott, who was once my daughter’s choice for the project.
The schools presence in my community remind me that I no longer need to help my son create a scrapbook album of his favorite author, James Ellroy (“The Black Dahlia,” “L.A. Confidential”), who shocked us all one day by phoning my son in response to a letter he’d written the best-selling author, as part of his school project. Oh, and I no longer have to help edit such letters.
I no longer receive invitations to see my kid’s class do a square dance recital that ends in mayhem and laughter, with the parents joining in for a rousing finale. I no longer get notices that the Scholastic book fair is coming to town and go with my kids so we can all experience the wonder of browsing through the selection of new books.
Nor do I get the excitement of learning my child’s been moved to a math or English honors class. And no longer do I have to buy all the supplies needed for the first day of school or for sixth grade camp. I certainly don’t need to make sure my daughter makes it on time to after-school gymnastics, Hebrew School or Girl Scout meetings. Those days are over.
As another school year draws to a close, I realize I’ve graduated from all that. It’s all in the past for me. And right now, there are parents, whose children are in the class of 2015, who are seeing a chapter in their child’s life come to a close. As Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” would say, “Sunrise, sunset.”
But there’s one thing I still have, and that’s my memories. For as I walk Henry and Oliver to the park, and pass the elementary school that my daughter once attended, I am overcome with memories. Hearing the peals of laughter and shouts from the children playing outside on the blacktop, I close my eyes, and for a moment I pretend I hear my daughter’s laugh among the din. She is there once again, a child filled with hopes and dreams. From the distance of my mind’s eye, I can see her immersed in play with her friends, running and skipping about, filled with a joyful innocence. And secure in the knowledge that no matter what, the schools will be there to teach the children, to mold them, to motivate and inspire them to become upstanding citizens of the world.FullSizeRender-1
In this moment, I hear the youthful voices loud and clear. The children who are there now, and the children who were there before them. They’re all there once again. My daughter, my son. Perhaps your children, too. As long as these schools surround me, they will be there. Always there in my heart, remaining forever young. Continue reading