Thursday, August 23, 2007

Back To It

I love the first day of school.

I love how everybody is at their best, imagining the best year ever ahead. I love how no one has been graded by anyone yet, and we all feel like we're in this together, and we're happy to see each other again. On the first day of school, I'm on my game. I could teach anything to anyone. I could teach bricks to float.

There is a tradition at The School on the first day. The whole school gets together on the quad, even if, like today, the temperature is 400 degrees above sun level, with the humidity of a day-long diaper, and we listen to some words from the Head and from the student council president. It's nice, actually, and every year I look through the crowd until I find each member of The Family: Mother, wrangling her Kindergarteners,; Eldest, looking cool in the way that eighth graders have to, which he pulls off pretty well, I think, but not so cool that he won't acknowledge his dad with a smile and a nod, I love him for that; Daughter, new Middle Schooler, sitting perfectly straight and on the edge of her seat, because her heart is so big that on her first day of middle school she is thinking about Youngest, and she is so excited for him.

That's because on the first day, each Kindergartener, and Youngest is a Kindergartener now, gets walked to his or her classroom by a senior. It's a great tradition, but it's no small thing for a five year old to get up in front of 1000 people and take the hand of a stranger. Some of the kids get two senior buddies - it's a math thing, you wouldn't understand. And Daughter was perched so straight and tall, excited to see her brother do the walk that she did years ago, and Eldest years before that. My armpits were damp, my brow was dripping, and my heart was warm.