A Week Down Memory Lane

I’m writing from a little library in the Maryland town where my mom’s parents live. They’ve lived in the same house since 1959, and they’ve actively refused to hop on the Interweb party bus. (I think my grandpa’s exact words were: “Don’t buy a computer for me. I won’t use it.”) As a result, I have 30 minutes to give you a brief update before I’m booted off the library computer.

I’m taking a week off between elementary school and middle school, which is giving me time to process my K-5 experiences. My scrawlings have filled a whole notebook with memories and observations, and I’m both eager to translate them into posts and petrified that I’ll lose the notebook before I have the chance. As always, I hope to catch up on writing in the next few days, and share more stories with you.

This week will generate some blogging fodder of its own, I’m sure. I’m spending a couple of days in Maryland with my mom and grandparents (Pop Quiz: 3 generations of anxious Asians + 2 days + 1 small space = ?). On Thursday, I meet two of my college roommates in the Boston area to see the new baby boy of our third college roommate. At my high school reunion, the mere thought of my classmates reproducing made me uneasy, so I’m sure seeing a close friend with an infant will blow my mind.

Here’s a quick update from last week:

On Friday, I wrapped up elementary school. I arrived at recess, in order to say goodbye to the group of third grade girls who have become my closest friends at the school. They’d made me promise to tell them not one, but two, new ghost stories before I left, and I regaled them with The Hook and The Hairy Toe. After the story, Lisa, my daily burst of sunshine and bear hugs, wrapped her arms around me tightly and said, “I’m not letting you go!” She clung to me until it her turn came up at four-square, at which point she quickly released me and ran into the open square, calling over her shoulder, “BYE!!”

As I placed thank-you notes in the boxes of the teachers who had hosted me, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the community at my elementary school, and the opportunity to be included in it for the last month and a half. I ran into Diane, the school’s academic coordinator, and talked at length about the strong relationships among the teachers and kids. She began to get misty-eyed as I told her the ways I’d seen so many of the kids taking care of each other — instead of making fun of each other, as I remembered kids doing much more in my own day.

I drove away from the school that day feeling lighter, that I’d been able to trigger a lot of memories from my schooling and make peace with them. I also had the chance to do dozens of things I hadn’t done since I was little, from experimenting with magnets to swinging on the monkey bars. I have plans to come back regularly and play with my little friends at recess, as well as attend the weekly after-school guitar classes that I happened to stumble on last week. In fact, I hope to attend as many music classes at the school as I can, especially chorus and drumming. During my hour and a half spent doing music last week, I felt happier than I’d been in a long time.

Next week, it’s on to middle school: locker rooms, popularity contests, and school dances. Although I’ve worked with middle school kids for the last five years, becoming one of them again will be a whole new experience. Don’t be surprised if I suddenly give you the silent treatment and then act like your best friend again the next day.

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