Tuesday, September 6, 2011

'rithmetic

First day of school. Off to a new grade, a new teacher and, more than likely another new math. I have butterflies.

The butterflies began on this 'first day' when I was a child facing a new year. Grades, friends, clothes, growing up. It would all be new for another year. I was leaving childhood behind in yearly increments moving on to adulthood and parenthood. Butterflies appeared again when my children walked into the school on those first days. All of my dreams for them sat on a fine edge of holding on and letting go. Now another first day has arrived for my granddaughters.

Schools have changed over the decades. For the parents, it is a game of keeping up. For the grandparents, it is a time to be involved. Sometimes we forget how important we are to the family. A friend read Harry Potter every night with her grandson who lived in San Diego. They took turns reading the books bridging the miles. She took over the very important time of day when the child needed to read. Her time with her grandson was about more than reading. With more time on our hands, we have a great deal to give.

I live with my grandchildren so am on call when needed.  It is difficult at times. Math seems to be all new each year. Friends come and go. Phrases repeat daily: Is your homework done? Did you read? How was your day? etc. Trying to get a comment versus a one word answers or a head nod seem impossible. My oldest grandchild doesn't like to talk after school. I wait each day until she decides to unload the events of the day. At first it threw me.

"How was your day?" I would ask.

"I don't wanna talk. I've talked all day," her usual reply.

I wait. She eventually decides to resume conversation. And, after several attempts, I've learned to never ask her how her day has been. We all learn.

Kids today are in a different world from that I knew and even that of their parents. Cursive has flown out the window with word processing. Calculators are used in grade school. The internet is handier than the library for instant answers and research. It is the same as always.....a game of 'keep up'.

I think this progression of education is good for all of us. We continue to learn and grow from our involvement with the children. We might even challenge ourselves to learn more about computers, phones and ebook readers. Of course, we can still hold on to the ways we learned. We can still sometimes use the old to explain the new. Perhaps when a child goes back to school, we go along bringing along a time remembered.

School days, school days, dear old golden rule days. Reading and writing and 'rithmetic. Taught to the tune of a hickory stick. You were my queen in calico. I was your bashful barefoot beau. When you wrote on my slate, I love you so."   When we were a couple of kids.

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