too cool for school

I have a distinct memory of standing in my dad’s boat, which was parked on the street in front of our house, defending my love of fall to the boy who would one day break my heart. I was 10 years-old and wearing a pink t-shirt with an Ewok on it. My face was peeling from a summer at the beach. And yes, I was playing in a parked boat in front of my house. The boy who would one day break my heart was walking his beagle down the street and you’d think I could remember who struck up the conversation about fall, but storing useless information is funny this way.

“Eww, why do you like fall?” the boy said. “That’s when we have to go back to school.”

His point made me feel even nerdier than you’d think possible for someone wearing an Ewok shirt, though it was flawed because we don’t go back to school in fall. It’s still summer for a good two weeks past Labor Day.

I still love fall. I love them all, but fall is best of all. The other night when my preschooler melted down at the mall and I thought my world was ending (melodramatic much?), I helped my older kid pick out jeggings and shirts from stores that all carry the same clothes yet are painfully spread out. The mall could easily be condensed to 10 stores and then maybe preschooler crises could be avoided (ha).

My older kid was getting ready to start middle school and she was nervous as hell about it, which was unusual for her. She’d say “What if I have a lot of homework?” and I’d remember creepy Mr. Shorko who taught math and flirted with all the 6th grade girls. She’d say “What if I can’t open my locker?” and I’d remember that time I spent 20 minutes trying to open a locker that wasn’t even mine. She’d say “What if I can’t find my bus at the end of the day?” and I’d remember the time I kissed Danny on the bus in 7th grade and was afraid I’d get a hickey because clearly I had no idea what hickeys were. Instead of sharing all these horrible things with my daughter, I bought her new jeggings and overpriced shirts and told her it would all be fine and that middle school will soon feel as familiar as elementary school did.

When I went to parent orientation last spring, the guidance counselor asked how many of us loved middle school and only a few hands shot up. When she asked how many hated it, many more shot up. “Good,” she said. “Keep it to yourself. Your kids are not you.”

Our kids are not us. Our past is not our future. Fall is a fun time to reinvent yourself. Buy some new clothes and a Trapper Keeper and then get your life back on track because you spent all summer playing in a boat that wasn’t even in the water and didn’t accomplish anything of note. I love fall for the fresh start it offers and I’m not ashamed to say it.

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13 thoughts on “too cool for school

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  1. I did that with a locker, too!!!!!! What made it even more embarrassing was that the principal walked by, tried the help, then was about to get a custodian to open it when he realized I wasn’t at the right locker. It was the one to the left. I was mortified. *L*

    And here in the SW, school starts mid-August! I can’t get over that. September is fall, school, and lovely, lovely days. NOT August! And it was junior high, not middle school…that one still gets me, too. *L*

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  2. Opposite to you guys I’m afraid .. heading into spring down here. And by the way do you know we call Fall Autumn? Anyway I’ve moved to a place that doesn’t have much of a summer…and frankly weather isn’t something that I pay much attention to. I’m always more likely to be indoors. I love that image of you in your ewok t-shirt and the waterless boat and the boy with a beagle and the ability to break hearts. Great post xxx

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    1. I spent 6 months in Australia many years ago, which, yes, is not New Zealand but I think you share similar climate/seasons. I do prefer the sound of Autumn and in general think you have a lovely way with words.

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  3. I LOVE FALL!! Although my kids go to year-round school, so they’ve been in since the beginning of July. I love Fall on the eastern side of the country. We never got the weather back in California but there is something to be said for going back to school and new beginnings.

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  4. I’m probably one of the few people that doesn’t like summer, I’m a cold weather girl. Ah, those boys that break our hearts, we never quite fall out of love with the first one, do we? Here’s to fall and falling in love!

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  5. Dang girl. Your mom let you wear $59 t-shirts? You were so lucky.

    “Our past is not our future.” Love this. What a great reminder.

    And while I am a Summer girl at heart, I will look at Fall with new eyes and appreciate it as a time for new beginnings, remembered loves (even if they were stupidheads who broke our hearts), and warm cinnamonny flaky apple pies.

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    1. Ha, I didn’t notice the price! If only I’d saved mine. I remember it as being very soft and cozy like love. Priceless.

      I am more a summer girl these days than ever before. Fall can be depressing because of what comes after, but those are some great things you mention to look forward to. Plus I think a certain someone runs a marathon this fall?

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  6. Oh, this was such a funny, fun, sentimental read. I can so relate to having fun playing on a parked boat, the decal t-shirts, the crush on the neighborhood boy, saying and hearing ewwwww! all the time.

    I think it is really poignant about what you wrote about the parents hating middle school and the teacher saying, “Keep it to yourself. Your kids are not you.” Such a great lesson.

    Finally, I love fall too. The weather and the relief from the pressure of the summer activities.

    XO

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  7. Trying to help my daughter not repeat my failures of the past – she has just started 6th form over here – i.e. first bit of post 16 education when you really limit subjects down to 3 or 4 and target university or degree choices. Of course she doesn’t really know what to do! So trying to keep options open but all change as boys join (single sex school up to year 11) and several friends have gone off to other options and she is no longer in the same old gang…

    However more importantly she needs to learn to work at it now.. something I failed to do!!! LOL!

    I love the colours of autumn – I used to regularly travel to New England in my old job, I used to love going in autumn, the long drive up / down I95 didn’t seem so bad at that time of year.

    I’m trying to get myself out of my flunk and focused forward – not too well sadly!!!

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