Tuesday, November 15, 2011

School Dazed

On my way to work this morning I passed a boy headed for school. A little bit further down the road I passed another. Neither of them was in a hurry, and neither of them looked happy.

As I drove by the school I realized that the kids must be headed there and would soon enter their classrooms. It triggered a knot in my gut... a familiar knot. Memory reminds me that this knot in my stomach once grew in intensity and remained with me all day until I was on my way home from school again in the afternoon.

When I was pre-school age, I was jealous that my older siblings were able to to go to school. That jealousy didn't last long. Any thoughts of envy went out the car window on the way to school the first day.

Nothing is as dreadful as the thought of school to a kid. There is just so much a kid has to deal with. Peer pressure, bad teachers, and the whole uncaring machine that makes this so-called education seem like a prison sentence. If you learn, it is largely by accident.

I remember joking with a friend when I was in 5th grade that we were released on furlough for Spring Break. The thought of that short time out of school was such a memorable pleasure. When I graduated from High School, it was like getting some sort of pardon from the governor. I don't think I'll ever feel that happy and free, again.

I used to have nightmares about being back in school. The sheer terror of having to be back in that situation made it seem worse than the scariest horror movie. And not just because kids got shot in my school. That never even plays into it.

It's always just the way it was in real life. And I'm back there... against my will, trudging through it... dreading the next class, avoiding those I avoided, trying to be noticed by those I want to notice me. I'm walking the stairs, going down the halls, being late for a class... Suddenly noticing that I'm in the wrong part of the school when I need to be in another class... not noticing until I'm sitting down at a desk that I grabbed the wrong book from my locker... and that I don't have a pen or pencil.

Even going to work as an adult you never feel the same level of dread as going to school. Your ability to feed and support yourself comes from keeping a job, yet the fear of losing that doesn't compare to the anxiety a kid has about going to school. Seeing the blank, hopeless gaze of those kids just reminded me how glad I am that I don't have to do that ever again.