Back to School. A term which strikes fear into the heart of every child between the ages of 5 and 18, come September. I know I hated it. But why am I bringing it up NOW? It’s the end of March…a time where hearts are joyously anticipating the beginning of summer, not cowering in fear over the pending doom of school desks and squeaky chalk. And since I homeschool, why on earth would I even think about such a phrase? Well, have I story for you.
It was late last fall. The kids and I were in full swing with our own particular brand of schooldom, and Mr Izz was finishing up his last couple of classes in order to get his nursing degree. The weather was still good (this in mid November…quite a feat here in the North Country), which of course made school rather difficult as the Izzlets would have preferred an outdoor schoolroom where football was on the schedule rather than math. I can’t say I blame them…I know I was mentally running through the fields under the warm sun as the children tried to remember how to spell tempest or the answer to 12 x 8. All minds were elsewhere, that’s for sure. It was into this foggy dreamworld of flowers and football that Mr. Izz entered. I’m really not sure how long he was standing there….”IZZ!!!!” I looked up to see him standing there, with a bewildered look on my face. Wasn’t I just making a daisy chain to put into my hair? I found myself quickly, jumped up, gave him a peck on the cheek, and asked him how his day was. He sat down, and started to go through the ins and outs (I was only half listening…trying to recapture that bit of bliss from earlier). All of a sudden my mind snapped into the here and now. “What did you just say??” I looked at him suspiciously….surely I hadn’t heard him correctly. “How would you like to go back to school?” I still was certain I hadn’t heard him correctly, but I went with it anyway. “Me? Go back to school?? Are you insane? I can’t go back to school! I have too much to do here, and I don’t think that’s something I can handle.” I then looked at him with wide eyes, and said “you’re kidding, right?” “Of course I’m not kidding. I’m serious. This would be a good time for you to go back. In fact, if you get all your stuff together, you can go back for the Spring semester.”
I just sat there, staring at him. My mind was whirling. I wasn’t sure what to think, other than perhaps I’d let my mind wander too far into the fanciful, and now I’d slipped into some other world, like Alice. But there he was, smiling back at me, looking just like he always looked, and not a bit like a Cheshire Cat. Could it be…….TRUE?
Turns out it was. I was going back to school, provided I could get the necessary items turned in to the registrar and health services. I was going to be a “readmit”. Since I had already attended school there (a million years ago), all I had to do was fill out a short application and wait to hear back. Long story short, I did hear back, and they were thrilled to “have me back”. I made an appointment with the registrar to fill out a schedule. After going through all the classes I “needed” to take as a Freshman, I decided upon French 101 (one of those requirements) and and Upper Division Literature class (American Writers 301). Then I just had to wait until the Spring Semester to begin at the end of January. It was all a bit like a dream. I had wanted to go back for so long and pursue a degree in Literature, but it just wasn’t the right time. Until now. I had about a month to wait, and I was so excited. For a time. Then the excitement turned into trepidation. Which then turned into panic. The night before classed started, I didn’t sleep a wink. I kept thinking about how wrong this all was. Surely I’d be popping out of the rabbit hole soon…and if I didn’t, maybe I should force myself out. What was I thinking?? I’m almost 40 years old! I don’t belong in college…I should withdraw before it’s too late. I think I got about 2 hours of sleep that night, as my mind whirled and my stomach churned. By morning, the panic had turned into full fledged terror, and I was certain anything I ate would come back up.
Mr Izz and I left at 8:30…he needed the car, so he took me. I felt like a little kid, but in a way, it was nice to have him there. He pulled up to my building, and smiled at me. I told him this was wrong….I needed to just go home and be Mom. He smiled wider and shoved me out of the car, saying “It’s going to be fine. You’re going to do great.” I almost cried as he pulled away. Is this what little kids feel like when their parents just toss them out the door for their first day of school? The poor things. My feet felt like lead, but I walked to my first class. And then to my second class. And then it was over. My first day of school. I did it. I made it through! All that fear anxiety, for what? Nothing! No one said boo to me. No one commented on my grey hair, or said I didn’t belong. In fact, no one really even noticed me. And it was kind of cool to be “Izzy” for a few hours, rather than “Mom”. Not that I hate being Mom…but I liked being someone other than Mom even for those couple of hours or so. And it made coming home and being Mom again that much sweeter.
Mr Izz picked me up, and I just bubbled over the entire time about my classes. How I remembered way more in French than I thought I would, and how weird it was that the whole syllabus was on computer, and how I thought my Lit class was going to be really, really hard, and how worried I was since it was a 300 level course, and I was still technically a Freshman, but how I still was excited to take it because it looked SO interesting and I thought the books we were reading were going to be fun, and I wonder how hard the papers were going to be and would I be able to write them (yes, your head really is supposed to be spinning right now). When I stopped to take a breath, Mr Izz asked me if I’d enjoyed it. I smiled, and said yes. Absolutely, yes.
We are now just past the middle of the semester. I did have more moments of panic (especially right before my first paper in Literature…which I got a 100 on. And I don’t care that I’m bragging), but I think I’ve assimilated quite nicely. Yes, I am the eldest student in both of my classes, by far, but at least I’m younger than my professors. That’s a consolation. But I am also holding a 4.0 in both classes…this despite only being a Freshman in a Literature class designed for Juniors and Seniors. I’m holding my own….ok, I’m doing better than that. I’m excelling. Something I’ll admit I wasn’t sure I could do anymore. But I am. And I’m proving to everyone, especially myself, that even at 40 you can do great things. That’s a great feeling.
I’m now gearing up to register for my Fall semester classes. My advisor advised me I should take the Freshman courses first, including Introduction to Literature. But I smiled and told her I knew I could handle the 302 course….it is British Literature, after all. “Maybe we can use that instead of Lit 100” she said. I know we can. Because I know I can do anything. Even at 40. Back to School is going to have a very different meaning for me, come the fall. What an exhilarating phrase it is.

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