At the last minute, she ripped off the red top she chose the night before, wriggled out of the too-tight jeans, grabbed her favourite T-shirt and the comfy blue shorts softened from all-summer wear, took a last look at her hair, which seemed a disaster on this morning of all mornings, snatched the backpack and slammed the door on the way out. Accidentally. She had to go. Now. It was a September morning again, the lake silent and distant, the CNE closed, the school doors wide open, a bell about to ring.
This year will be different. She tells herself as she popped a stick of Trident gum in her mouth. The boy was waiting at the bus stop.
It’s the beginning of a September story. Her story. And his story.
There are a million such September stories of hope-filled beginnings with disastrous or envious endings and all manner of twists and turns in the messy middle. September is particularly suited to stories. Think about it. All our stories of school and schooling for us, for our children, for our neighbour’s children, all share a September setting.
Call up your September memories. What stands out most?
I remember taking our daughter by the hand down the road, across the park to kindergarten at Lucy Maud Montgomery Public School. Our first child, going to school for the first time. I was ready to burst into song like Julie Andrews in the opening scene of Sound of Music. “The hills are alive, with the sound of music…
For weeks I’d prepped Joy, told her all about the famous woman for whom her school was named, how much I loved her book, Anne of Green Gables, how I read it as a little girl in Jamaica, how she was going to have great adventures at school, and on and on, capturing her teacher-parents dreams, the parents who were school-loving nerds who decided to never leave school.
That first September morning she walked beside me slowly, silently, bearing the backpack that was bigger than her five-year-old frame, but she had chosen it. She clutched my hand tightly. She did not smile. She did not run to play with the other neighbourhood kids gathered in a corner of the school yard. Clearly Mom was the only one bursting with excitement. When the bell rang and the smiling teacher appeared and asked the kindergarteners to line up by the green door, and the hovering parents waved goodbye, I burst into tears.
Suddenly it was another September, our daughter at her school and me going off to my school to stand before the girl in the T-shirt and shorts chewing gum and chatting about the boy, she believes is hers, finally. Life, full circle, my heart full of myriad emotions.
That’s one of my September stories. Which September do you remember?