School days, school days, good old Golden Rule days

David Atwood Points of the Compass
Posted 8/16/13

School starts Monday, which brings a mix of emotions to the household. The Princesses love/hate it, the Admiral teaches, so sees it as a duty, but it is work, and we all love work, right? Whereas I breathe a sigh of relief and say, for the first …

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School days, school days, good old Golden Rule days


School starts Monday, which brings a mix of emotions to the household. The Princesses love/hate it, the Admiral teaches, so sees it as a duty, but it is work, and we all love work, right? Whereas I breathe a sigh of relief and say, for the first time in my life, “I can’t wait for school to start.”

I can identify with the Princesses’ love/hate relationship, but for different reasons. I was a terrible student and had a hate/love relationship with school. For me, the love was for the social aspects of school. All my friends gathered in one building and I could flit from one group to another and have a wonderful time visiting, laughing, and joking right up until the bell rang for first period. Then I hated school. I had to be in class, but I looked forward to the next bell that would release me into the halls for a brief few minutes where I was free to gad about again, squire some young lady to her next class before the dreaded bell rendered me a prisoner.

The final bell of the day freed me to gather with other miscreants in the parking lots and carry on some more. We would do a little street racing, make plans for the Friday night football game, and meet up with girls all the while ignoring my younger sister who sat in the car, honking the horn, anxious to get home to do her homework. What a dweeb.

The Princesses are excellent students. They love to go to school to, of all things, learn, but hate it because of all the work required to gain their “A” standard. It is self-imposed because I cannot require of them what I was never willing to achieve. The social aspect is not even secondary in their minds. Sports come second with dating and such a distant third, although gaining fast.

They hate the loss of freedom that they have enjoyed all summer. The time to sleep as much as they could stand, the time to go on tours, family trips, to camps, church gatherings where they meet more and more boys, which leads to more and more trips to unscheduled activities where boys may gather.

When I was their age and younger, 13 to be exact, I spent my summers working. My parents required it of me. There were not as many camps and summer activities to send me to, and I doubt that if there were, my parents would have sprung for them, so I worked. I was safe there. My family was at peace while I was there, and I made money, with which I bought a car, which gave me freedom, which further got me out of the house. It was a good thing for them and me. Child labor laws being what they are today, my children have not been able to have the same experiences.

I ran a service station at 13 in the days when we pumped gas, washed windshields, checked under the hood, swept out the front floorboards all for 17 cents per gallon. I loved it. At 14 and 15, I worked for two old carpenters who taught me how to do everything about building a house from the foundation to the roof. The jobs and experiences increased from there. Today, children bring home flyers for various summer camps and activities while holding out their hands for more money.

I don’t mind. They are gaining experiences I never had, or are just now having. I admit, I am a little jealous, but it is worth the expense, and almost worth the constant travel, which will now end, and that is why I am, for the first time in my live, happy for school to start.

I will have the house to myself. I can get work done without having to do it in motel rooms. It will be quiet. I will be in my own space to work, which I may actually do. That is what I dream of and long for this coming Monday. The reality will most surely be different.

I will be rousting the house at 4:30 a.m. to get ready for early morning Seminary at the church for the Princesses. After they are off, the Admiral and I will build their lunches. The Admiral will leave for work. The Princesses will come home for a few minutes; long enough to make last minute clothes changes because, after all, they are Princesses, grab their lunches, scream their goodbyes, and be gone.

I will be in a state of exhaustion, which will lead me to the couch where the dog will curl up next to me and we will sleep. I will awake in time to realize that I have not worked at all, but it is near enough to lunch, so I will make a sandwich, or better yet, go out to eat with a buddy. When lunch is over, and after a suitable rest period to let the food settle, it will be time to work out, and before you know it, all the missing parts of the family will return home, and I will have wasted the entire day and will be wondering why I am happy school is starting.

The start of school is a time to turn over a new leaf, get a fresh start, a milestone to mark the beginning of the fall and winter’s journey. I do look forward to it, but I wonder how long it will be before I am bored to tears.

David Wilson Atwood is a local writer whose human-interest columns offer a unique perspective. He may be contacted, and his other works viewed at: