Saturday, August 13, 2016

As Summer Sets and School Begins

I've enjoyed digging through the cluttered attic called memory in order to open up a few dusty boxes labeled School Days to see what might fall out.  Every year, I put myself in my boys' shoes to remember what it was like to be entering their grades.  This year, I find myself a sophomore, an 8th grader, and a 5th grader.  And, can I get an amen that this is all really behind me?!

10th grade:

Let's start with the hardest first day ever, my first day of being a sophomore in high school.  I was the new girl on campus.  I had gone to Fayetteville schools my whole educational life (minus the one year in Louisiana, that in itself is a whole other story) but now I found myself walking the halls of Springdale High School.  How on earth did I find myself in my rival's school building? 

I wasn't to be a Fayetteville Bulldog.  Nope, I was going to be a Springdale Bulldog. 

I knew no one.  Except maybe Natalie, whom I had met in 4-H, but she was a cheerleader and out of my friend-league. 

I have blocked most of that first day out, I am sure.  We insecure types like to do that.  No reason for heart palpitations and shortness of breath unless you are on the treadmill, right?

But, the lunch stays with me.

Or, the lack of, I should say.

I saw the long lunch line while reality sank in.  I really don't know anyone here.  How on earth am I going to purchase a lunch when I don't have anyone to sit down with?  I will be the biggest fool trying to find a seat by myself. 

So instead, I hid.  And that was a major thing for this girl who had never skipped a meal in her entire 15 years of life.

I nonchalantly walked into the bathroom and locked myself into the stall.  I sat down on the stool and stared at my watch.  Maybe I was willing to miss lunch, but I wasn't about to be late for my next class.  Good girls just aren't tardy.

Apparently, the rumblings of my stomach weren't too noticeable that afternoon because no teacher turned me into child protective services for the blatant hunger that I thought for sure was written all over my face.

I don't think I have ever been happier to go home.  I walked into the door.  I remember both my parents being in the kitchen.  I went straight to the fridge and grabbed the first thing I saw.  Giant, cold meatballs.  Perfect.

Now, my Mom's meatballs aren't your typical Spaghetti-O's sized meatballs.  We're talking fist sized and to die for.  I wasn't used to missing meals, so I did what any normal starving person would do. I shoved one into each chipmunk cheek and willed myself to chew before swallowing.  And fast.

All the while, my parents are staring at me like I just got off a spaceship and timidly asking how my first day of high school was.  By this point, I am a blubbering mess of hot tears and anger and frustration and insecurity and humiliation.  I have snot running down my face and I can't even talk because I keep choking on the three pounds (per cheek) of hamburger meat that I recklessly shoved into my face.

I remember Dad wondering out loud if he did the right thing in switching us to a different school zone.  I assured him that I would be fine.

I just needed one single person to eat lunch with for crying out loud.

God must have looked on me with incredible mercy that day.  I don't remember when I started meeting people and making friends, but I also don't remember having another lock-myself-in-the-bathroom kind of day again.

My sophomore story is partly funny now and then again not-so-much.  It reminds me that when I battle insecurity, the first thing I want to do is hide.  I think of Adam and Eve, grabbing anything they could grab to cover themselves.  Fig leaves, for crying out loud.  God knew it would take more than simple leaves.

It would take blood and sacrifice and life.

Jesus, the final sacrifice, has come to give us life.  Abundant life. 

What I want my now sophomore boy to continue to know and live out is this:  When our lives are completely hidden in Christ, we can walk forward in confidence, knowing who and Whose we are. Once we are hidden in Christ, there is no longer any reason to hide. It is Satan that wants to prey on insecurities and strip you of your value. You have something to offer.  Don't hide it away in a dirty stall.

8th Grade

Oh golly.  I mean, what girl really wants to delve back into the pages of her 8th grade yearbook?  The hair, enough, is to make us shudder and have nightmares for days on end.  Talk about identity and trying to figure out who you are supposed to be in this world.  8th grade was cruel in many ways but also a blessing a hundred fold.  It seems like it was the year of separation.  All of my friends were either trying out for the basketball team, the cheerleading squad, or the dance team.  I was over in my barn, washing my show cattle and getting them ready for the state fair.  All of my best friends found new friends.  At the time, it was a battle, but, now, I see how it molded me into who I was going to be.  God didn't create me to dance or cheer or play ball.  He created me to do other things, and it was time for me to be ok with myself in choosing those things. 

For whatever reason, the 8th grade teacher that sticks out the most is Mrs. LeBlanc.  Oh, I loved that class.  I hated the math she taught, mind you, but I loved her as a teacher and the friends that graced the seats.  Mostly I remember Ryan and his mop of red hair.  I secretly loved him.  He was the quiet type, with glasses and nerd all up in his DNA.  He made math a joy as I would steal backward glances every change I got.

I feel like 8th grade is not complete without the patch story.  I had pink eye.  Of course, I was terrified of missing class, so Mom taped a big old piece of white stuffy gauze over my eye.  When everyone stared at me in horror and asked what was wrong, I told them I had conjunctivitis.  I figured they weren't smart enough to figure out what that was (this was pre-iphone-google days, people.)  It helped me keep my dignity as I repeatedly told myself the stupidity of going to school as Patch the Pirate.

I want my now 8th grader to know that God has given him gifts.  He has the gift of soccer and the gift of learning.  Those may not be the same gifts God has given his other friends, and that is alright. I want him to know he also has the gift of kindness and charisma and he should use those towards the kid that shows up with a patch on his eye or towards the girl in front of him in math that might have a secret crush on him.  Kindness goes far in this world; it shows off the character of God.

5th grade:

Mrs. Whitlatch: Old and bitter lady with frumpy clothes and large spectacles.  I, along with every other 4th grader, was terrified at the prospect of having her.  Of course, I got her, because that is how my luck goes.  I am telling you now, you can't base everything on appearances and rumors, because she was one of the best teachers ever.  For starters, her fish tank was killer awesome. And, what more could a 5th grader need than a killer awesome tank of fish in the classroom?

I remember we all would sit down on the floor during reading time.  She would call our names, and we would each take a turn at reading out loud.  I'll never forget Matt Britt, coming to the word "laughter" and saying it like "lotter."  The room erupted into raucous laughter at his 'laughter' blunder.  He was an easy going soul and took it pretty well, but looking back, we as his friends probably shouldn't have made fun of him. 

5th grade was the year of the lice.  It jumped from desk to desk and kid to kid until it landed into my permed mop of hair that fell all the way down my backside.  My poor mother bought every lice kit in town and did her best at getting that itty bitty white comb through my permed mop.  She sprayed my linens, then probably fell on her knees and begged the God of the universe to not let the little beasts fall into the follicles of my siblings.  That's what good mommas do:  clean up the messes they can and pray away all the others.

I would love for my now 5th grade son to know that it's never nice to make fun of others.  Stand up for them and help them, instead.  I want my son to know that stupid things like lice happen and it's not your fault if it lands in your hair.  It doesn't make you dirty or any less of what God created you to be.  And finally, appearances and rumors are just that.  God sees the heart and He is teaching us to see peoples' hearts, as well.  I pray you see clearly, this year, sweet third born.

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Diwakar said...
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