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School Daze

Summer is officially over. The yellow school bus just picked up my twelve-year-old and sixteen-year-old. Big Sister is excited. She is now an upper classman. However, she is also grimly aware of the academic grind that begins today. In such a giant school there is very little room for innovation and creativity. There is a lot of pressure to perform and meet the test norms. This is the last year for resume enhancement before sending off the college applications. This is not a criticism. It is a wistful acquiescence to the reality of the situation. Her education will be adequate in most areas and really good in a few.

Little Brother is so nervous. Like his oldest brother, he is on the slower end of the growth curve. Everything and everyone looks really huge to him. He sat down with his big sister and they plotted his routes through the ever-changing maze of school hallways. I say ever-changing because the school is undergoing huge renovations. When it was first built it fell victim to that educational fad of schools without walls. It was a series of large open spaces in which the students were supposed to be so entranced with their own learning they would not be distracted by the “centers of learning” going on around them. That experiment was an abysmal failure. The school has been divided into makeshift classrooms using cubicle dividers, bookshelves, etc. The current construction project is putting real doors and walls in so hallways come and go. It adds an extra challenge to navigation.

Navigating the halls may be a piece of cake compared to navigating the middle school social world. He is already finding which friends share his interests and values and which elementary school friends are embracing the language and attitude of popular culture. We have talked about the “lemmings”—those kids who just follow the crowd without ever wondering where the crowd is going. It has been eight years since my first child tackled middle school. Is it just me, or has the culture gotten that much scarier in the last eight years? Last night I had a twelve-year-old neighbor call our house and respond to my “hello” with “Hey, Denise!” There is a cadre of parents in our area that think expecting a distinctive level of respect for adults makes children feel subservient and hurts their self-esteem.

Before my children dashed out to the bus this morning we prayed together the Guardian Angel prayer, St. Michael’s prayer, and a Morning Offering. I invite everyone to spend a little time on their knees today and pray for all our children. It is a big world out there and a little Heavenly guidance for both our children and their parents would be greatly appreciated.

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