Garner: Opinion

August 24, 2014

Column: School bells are a ringin’

Classes begin Monday for thousands of children all over Wake County and, depending on who you ask, that’s good or that’s bad.

Those poor children who have been cooped up all summer with nothing at all to do (cue sarcasm) finally get a break in their boring lives on Monday.

Classes begin for students in traditional schools all over the county and the young people who’ve been complaining about having nothing to do, will find themselves with plenty of homework, reading, math problems and science projects to complain about instead.

But I think the complaints are probably not all that serious. Most people – even children – are social creatures and the beginning of the school year is an opportunity to be around friends, to socialize and just generally enjoy the company of the people they are around.

I’ve done some incredibly unscientific research and I’ve discovered there are three kinds of approaches to the beginning of school. See which one of these applies to you or your child.

• The Gung-Ho Kid: This is the kid who makes no pretense about the fact that he or she is ready to go back to school. Bookbags were purchased by July 15 and by July 16, they are fully packed with paper, pens, pencils, markers (or crayons) gum, an extra sock (never a pair, mind you. Just one sock ) and a compact mirror (or one of those little plastic footballs if you’re a boy.) They’ve researched the teachers they are going to have and they know who is taking the same classes they are taking. The Gung-Ho Kid made sure his or her clothes were pressed and starched the week before classes start and they’ve mapped the most efficient route around the school to get from class to class with the least amount of traffic impeding their way.

Gung-Ho Kids tend to be girls more so than boys, but the males make a good showing. I was a Gung-Ho Kid until, oh, the first day of first grade. By that point, I had determined the school thing was too much work – something I was diametrically opposed to. After that, I become like the second kind of kid:

• The Eye Roller Kid: This is the kind of kid who rolls his or her eyes at every comment directed toward him. “Billy Bob, what is 1 plus 1? Insert eye roll here before answering with a snarky comment. “A math problem,” the Eye-Roller Kid might say. Eye Roller kids started getting ready for ready for the school year about half an hour before the bus rolled up to the corner stop unless their mama makes them go clothes shopping. That exercise, by the way, elicits scores of eye rolls.

Eye Roller kids tend to be boys because, well, they are just generally meaner than girls. I clung to my eye-roller mystique until about 10th grade when it suddenly occurred to me that it would be nice to see my friends after a summer apart. Then I became like the third kind of kid we generally see.

• The Mellow Kid: This kind of student doesn’t have too many hangups. If Mom wants to go shopping, he or she will go. After all, new clothes would be kinda cool and, besides, they need to look good for the girls (or the boys.) But if that doesn’t happen, no big deal. The Mellow Kid always looks good – or at least feels good in whatever he or she wears. The Mellow Kid also manages not to stress out too much about schoolwork, although they don’t go so far astray that they blow off schoolwork altogether. After all, good old mom is already making plans for what the college dorm room will look like.

Mellow Kids are divided pretty evenly among boys and girls. Being a Mellow Kid is sort of like the sweet spot of student life. About the time they get there, high school graduation rolls around and all bets are off.

Here’s hoping your child is in the sweet spot this year.

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