There is nothing like going back to school. It’s a mix of emotions, at least for me it was. There’s the completely disturbing and utterly depressing reality that the summer is officially over. Back to the grind. But then there’s that little bit of excitement about starting anew. Old habits could be left for new vices. Friends that weren’t quite working out can be left to last year. The slate is clean and to be done with as you will. Hope and promise…two of the best concepts in any culture anywhere in the world.
I found my old elementary annuals earlier this summer.
They were mixed in with some stuff leftover from my parents’ move. Primary school memories are one thing, but revisiting them through actual imagery is pretty hysterical.
Now I have to preface all of this with the fact that I do understand that elementary is a battleground for a lot of individuals. Not like high school where maybe you weren’t popular or didn’t hang with the crowd you would’ve liked, but you could still maybe find a friend. Flying solo or being the odd duck wasn’t as humiliating as it was in those early formative years on the playground where nothing but fitting in was what was needed to build a healthy self-esteem. There’s no sense of self at that age. There’s no attitude of screw it, I don’t need these people.
And, kids are cruel. I think about the stuff we said and did and it was just plain mean. And I had a fairly good group in my grade. I don’t mean just cruel to each other, either, but cruel to the teachers and staff, too. I remember our art teacher. She was really one of the nicest ladies in a lot of ways. Was she beginning to go bald? Yes. And when you’re 7, 8, 9 and 10 years old (and sadly beyond), you don’t think about how mean it is to make fun of a grown woman who is losing her hair. You don’t understand hormones and menopause and genetics. You see a round older woman with bald patches in her dye job. How is that not funny when you’re that age? I think one of the things I heard was someone put glue in her hair. Rumor or real, I don’t know, but who does that? Kids. Kids do that. And their parents have no clue. We were really no different then to kids today in a lot of ways. It’s the same approach, just a different landing because of the era in which we live. We were bullies. We got bullied. The accessibility may not have been the same, but the intent was identical. Insecurities and influences abounded affecting our behavior as we grew and learned. Just like today.
But for all of that, I have mostly fond memories of elementary school. I didn’t always like my teachers. I didn’t always do what I was told, but I had a lot of fun doing whatever it was I did. One of the cool things about finding the yearbooks was looking back at the people who taught me, helped mold me, and nudged me in some way towards the person I am today.
One of the funniest things was looking at the labels and practices used back in the day. Most of which you can’t say today without a lawsuit directed your way. For example, my folks used to tell me my kindergarten teacher said my class had a lot of Chiefs but no Indians. You can’t say things like that anymore.
So here’s a little throw-back to the way things were…