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catching the jitterbug

September 3, 2010

So, the summer came and the summer went. And then: back to school.

Not for my son yet, thankfully. Yesterday I teared up in a Chinese restaurant as my friend described how her five-year-old walked into the school building by himself.

I go to school to work, to sit in an office and teach in a classroom on a campus full of 21,000 students. Plus. And though I know where I’m going and have been there before, and I don’t have to stand in line for $500 in books, this is a slice of August that always takes some getting used to.

It starts with rush week, when hopeful, dolled-up freshman gals crowd lawns and front walks to get into sorority houses (and, maybe, sororities). The whole thing makes me nervous, even from the sidewalk and ten years removed.

Speaking of the sidewalk: While I’m walking on it, likely toward my car (a 1999, the younger of our two daily drivers), other new students are cruising by in all manner of Escalade, Rover, BMW and Benz.

When I volunteered for move-in day, I carried many a flat screen. I thought Jeez, these new students have great starting salaries. (I don’t have a flat screen, though thanks to our government-issue converter box plus rabbit ears, I get network programming.) I know most entering freshmen don’t have flat screens or luxury cars, and I’m glad they’re all here, for richer or poorer.

But next year, I think might volunteer to help students move into the residence hall that doesn’t have air conditioning. Just to get my bearings.

On the night before the first meeting of my class, I dreamed that I had to teach it in Spanish. The next day, I told the students about it to break the ice. Which, in a three-hour class that meets at 4 p.m. on a Tuesday, is a course goal. On my next first day of class, if I don’t have an anxiety dream to share, I think I’ll hand out syllabi from a Trapper Keeper.

Do you celebrate, dread or otherwise observe the first day of school? And do you have a Trapper Keeper?

13 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2010 1:22 pm

    I pined for a Trapper Keeper back in the day..

  2. September 3, 2010 4:05 pm

    Um… Do I get points off if I admit that I’ve never heard of a Trapper Keeper, and I just had to Google (and Wiki) it?

    Technically speaking, I’m not so ancient that I couldn’t have been exposed to this particular form of binder (Wiki said they came out in the 70s). And, may I add, that there have been biweekly trips to Office Depot for the past few weeks in search of assorted school supplies for my high school kid who started back a full month ago, and I’ve never seen nor been asked for a Trapper Keeper.

    I thought perhaps it might be something that would work on the squirrels in the attic. Alas, no. Or a way to meet a new man, with a bushy beard? Apparently not.

    I find myself again behind the times,
    Woefully and eerily amiss,
    Long accused of verbal barbs and crimes,
    Still, in school things, it has come to this –

    Once I loved returning to the fold,
    Notebooks, binders, pens and hours in class –
    Even when the days and nights grew cold
    Hiking campus steps and paths and grass –

    Oh to find myself in college halls
    And filling want to learn that still remains!
    But these weeks before the autumn falls
    I’m the nag on books, when Kid complains.

    Trapper Keeper sounds divine to me –
    Papers, laughter, (man?) entwined with glee.

    (Yeah, yeah, I know. Chalk it up to an excess of pent-up pentameter proclivities, or an excess of teen hormones in the household.)

    • September 3, 2010 5:27 pm

      I’d say that being in the dark re: Trapper Keepers is simply a testament to your and your boys’ sophisticated taste in school supplies. (Or to your and their youth – you all missed the trend!) Mine was printed with the image of a metal locker, which my school didn’t have. It seemed very big-urban-school at the time. Betcha I could make it useful on squirrel trespassers. And as for the rhyming? I am impressed – I’d bet you could rhyme something with “proclivities” if you wanted to – and honored: No one else writes poetry for me. 🙂

  3. September 4, 2010 1:58 am

    No trapper keeper for me. oh sad! I usually love back-to-school (as both a kid and a parent), but this year was hard.

  4. September 5, 2010 2:48 pm

    I’m with Wolf, I have NO idea what a trapper keeper is? But my son starts school next Thursday, and I’m firmly rooted in denial. Funny part is, this time of year holds so many fond memories for me. This year thought is steeped in emotion.

  5. September 6, 2010 10:46 pm

    I loved Trapper Keepers. Those two words brought me back to wonderful memories in my past. Thanks Leslie.

  6. September 7, 2010 6:29 pm

    I have to say first that I love, love, love your pictures. You are a great photographer! I love that picture of your son on the couch, with the focus on his feet. So artistic.
    In terms of school, my husband starts year #2 of his PhD in a week and a half (Sep. 20th). His mom used to make him cookies on his first day when he was growing up, so I need to remember to do that. . .

  7. September 8, 2010 2:26 am

    I read this post when you first wrote it and am finally coming back to comment. To begin with, what do you teach? I knew you were a teacher but somehow imagined an elementary or high school teacher. I’m obviously wrong so could you fill me in? (If you’d like to anyway.)

    Second, what you are describing reminds me of a few students in my college. Although, in my town, the housing that holds the, um, richer kids is much nicer than the places I lived in. : ) Still, I have found that many kids that came to school with the pricey cars and TV’s have a hard time adjusting to life on their own. Most get into a ridiculous amount of debt because they feel they need to live like their parents have lived but forget that it often took their parents years to accumulate their wealth. Sorry, rant for the day I guess.

    Good luck on this first and second week!

    • September 8, 2010 2:59 am

      Hi Amber! I work mostly with high school students in my full-time job on campus, but I also teach a journalism class to undergrads in the fall. And re: those undergrads – these new dorms (in-suite bathrooms, lofts, etc.) are a world away from the one I lived in as a freshman (leaky air conditioner, no elevator). Next year, when I volunteer for move-in day, I’m going back to one of those, just to remind myself that they still exist.

  8. September 8, 2010 8:30 pm

    Leslie – I had to google “trapper keeper” because clearly I’m unfamiliar. It wasn’t huge in Malaysia while I was growing up but I can only imagine by the time my daughter’s old enough for new school trends, I’ll have to learn a whole slew of terms and items that are alien to me.

  9. September 8, 2010 11:56 pm

    Oh, I know the Trapper Keeper well. I coveted others, because I’m not sure if I had one myself. Or if I did, I got it later than all my cool friends.

    So you work at a college? (Might I ask what you teach?) There’s so much excitement about returning to a dorm. For me, it was the first taste of independence, and I was immediately hooked.

    I used to have anxiety dreams about teaching where I was yelling really really loud to a rowdy group of students, yet no one heard me, or they chose not to listen.

    I don’t miss those days, I tell ya’!

    Good luck this year!

    • September 10, 2010 12:12 am

      I just read the comment above and saw what you teach. Doh!

  10. September 9, 2010 9:04 pm

    Oh, I know the Trapper Keeper, too. But I was more of a spiral notebook kind of girl. With color-coordinated three-prong folders for each class. Oh, yeah.

    And, tell me, do the sororities at your university ring old-fashioned dinner bells to announce the end of the party? And do the boys driving by in cars have frequent fender-benders because they stop to rubber-neck at all the dressed-up girls? That’s how it was at my university, and the formality and absurdity of the whole thing always cracked me up.

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