My Summer School

summer schoolWhile it’s not quite time to start preparing to go back to school here, with about two weeks of summer vacation left for my girls, I can look back at all that I learned over the last eight weeks.  As they get ready to go back to school, my summer school is coming to a close.

Lesson one was (and as if this writing is) 16.0’s lifeguard career at a semi-local water park.  Forgetting the driving and scheduling that I ended up jumping through – I can honestly say I am proud of the work ethic she has shown this summer.  It’s clear to me work ethic is a learned trait.  I saw my mother work hard to provide a home for her three children – and I’ve tried to emulate that.  From my days at Valley Caterers (perhaps even before that when I was delivering newspapers) through my career.

I’m pretty sure my girls have seen how hard I work to make sure they have a happy home to live in – OK, sometimes I remind them too.  They don’t get everything they ask for – but they know that nothing comes without work, and that is a trait 16.0 has shown this summer.

Lesson two came just this week when 13.5 had her orientation for high school.  I have to admit, having them both on the same school schedule will help me.  But 13.5 got into the orientation and took it seriously.  She even surprised me by jumping into fall athletics at the school (she tried out for and made the tennis team).  For her, this is a whole new approach to school – being active and eager.  We’ll have to go over to the school next week to get her into an art class she really wants to take (another sign of her taking an active interest in her education).

I spent a lot of time with her over the last 12 months talking about taking a new approach – no long lectures, no screaming matches.  Just timed conversations that seemingly worked.

Lesson three was also last week when 16.0 took a week off from lifeguarding to return to Camp Good Grief as a volunteer counselor.  This was something I introduced the girls to about five years ago as a way to be able to talk about the loss of their mother.  Both have said their years there were good – and I’m so thrilled 16.0 feels the need to give back a week to help other kids overcome an obstacle they’ve dealt with.

Two weeks to go until first bell at the high school.  I supposed that’s also two weeks to go until my summer school is out.

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Middle School and the Locker

Today 11.0 had her “orientation” for middle school.  I think the school principal summed it up best when he called the two-plus hour session about lockers and hallways.  In reality, it was little more than a chance for the kids to go to their lockers, figure out how to make them work and then walk their schedules.  While there was some re-connecting with classmates as the summer winds down, it was really about getting the locker to work.

Now, this was no easy task.  None of the kids in the area where 11.0 has her locker were able to navigate the two turns right, one turn left and back to the right on the first try.  In some cases not really on the 12th try either. For us, it took a more than a couple of tries, but less than a dozen and the process of opening the locker was done.

We then walked the schedules a few times-from home room (ELA and Reading are in the same class room) to gym to lunch to Spanish to social studies to science to math.  Generally 11.0 has a feel for where her classes will be.  I think after a week she’ll be in the flow and figure out when to go to her locker.

During a couple of the walks I wanted to stop by her locker so she could get a feel for opening it in the flow of the day-but that didn’t really work because three of the lockers near her were getting some interior design work done.  Pictures, wallpaper, pencil and pen holders-I was struck with two thoughts.

1. Where are these kids going to put their books and in the winter coats with all of this stuff in there?

2. Did I miss the boat by just getting the “locker buddy?”

In my defense, none of the other dad’s who were there were busy with the interior design work.  But is that what was expected?  I asked 11.0 and she said no, but I am not sure she would actually tell me.  It’s one of those moments when a female touch may have been needed-or at least that influence could have been helpful.  Yeah, I got the pink locker buddy, and it has a pretty good-sized mirror.  Still, no family pics are taped up, no wall paper is hung-I didn’t make the locker the center of the day.  Should I have?

All in all, I would call it a success-she can open her locker pretty much on the first try.  She can basically find her classes and she ran into some old and new friends.  So, the goal of the day-to be ready for the start of school in a new building with some new accoutrements is a win, but the thoughts of should there have been more do linger…

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