By SHELLEY SMITH
Glasgow Daily Times
Ok, I know I said I was doing a series of “Becoming Martha” columns, I promise I’ll resume those fun experiments next month. I wouldn’t want to deprive anyone of a little laughter of my behalf at my lack of domestic skills. That being said, I was so moved by back to school this year that I decided to write a column about it.
Though I’ve been an education reporter for two years, back to school always takes me by surprise. The way students react to new surroundings and the things they say is something new every year. It reminds me of the Alfred R. Ferguson poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” I think of these kids as nature’s first green that’s gold as described in the poem. They are like beautiful empty canvases ready to create something new. Most children seem to approach things with such an open mind, ready to believe they can be and do anything they want to do. They are as gold as gold gets.
On Wednesday, I stepped into a kindergarten class at Eastern Elementary. The class started out on the carpet with reading a book about a shark that attended school. A kindergarten boy looked at me with a quizzical stare and said, “This book is really silly.” It was as though he was asking me, “You don’t really buy into this shark going to school business, do you?” I couldn’t help but chuckle. The quickness of kids never ceases to amaze me.
On Thursday, I went to class with fourth graders at the Metcalfe County Intermediate Center. I saw a girl with flourescent colored clothes and Converse style tennis shoes in bright colors that nearly laced up to her knees. She reminded me greatly of the ‘80s TV character Punky Brewster. I didn’t bother to tell her that because I knew she’d have no clue as to who I was talking about. Ugh. I’m old. I saw another girl with similar shoes that were silver glitter. I thought it was so neat these kids were learning how to express themselves through clothing. They reminded of peacocks, displaying their brightly colored feathers to the world.
Also at Metcalfe County, I saw another fourth grade girl with her Lisa Frank trapper-keeper and an assortment of puppy and kitten themed folders and notebooks. She was huffing and puffing and stressing about them all fitting into the same binder. I wanted to tell her to smile and don’t sweat the small stuff, but instead I complimented her on the bow in her hair.
It’s hard that I’m the adult now looking at these kids on their first day of school when I can vividly remember being in their shoes. It doesn’t seem like that long ago. I can remember going through several new school outfits to find the “coolest” back-to-school attire. I can remember stressing out about my hair. I’d pray that mother didn’t have to leave for work early or else I’d get lopsided pigtails from my father which just wouldn’t do. I also remember my mother and father asking me to tell them one thing I learned at school that day. Usually, it was some scholarly stuff like “I don’t like brussel sprouts.”
Really kids these days aren’t that different. No matter where life takes these kids, I truly hope they can keep their childlike sense of wonder. I still hope that 10 years from now I still see a classroom full of dreamers who don’t take life or themselves too seriously. I hope they stay gold.
Shelley Smith is a staff writer for the Glasgow Daily Times. She can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.