Ford column: Back-to-school time prompts good memories
Back to school. Those three words can strike fear in the hearts of parents, but they also can make us jump for joy.
Are you counting down the days (nine)? Or dreading the stressful week ahead, as final back-to-school preparations pile up until we can’t see over the towering stack of glue sticks, physical forms and open house reminders before us.
My older kids have never really embraced the annual school supply shopping trip like I did as a child, but I did see a sparkle in Clara’s eyes as we picked out her pencils, scissors and folders for first grade.
Parents, of course, want everything to be perfect as their kids return to school. We want them to love their new shoes, feel proud of their new backpack and adore their new teacher. We want them to enjoy learning so much that they spend a lifetime pursuing knowledge with a voracious appetite.
We want them to make friends. And memories. Good ones, on both counts.
Some of my fondest childhood memories were made with my middle-school best friend, Sarah. I probably spent the majority of Friday nights at her house throughout those tumultuous tween years.
This summer, roughly 24 years after our last sleepover, we had another one during the all-school reunion in Vermillion, S.D.
Her parents’ house was just as I remember it ó her dad’s office where we made prank phone calls (in the days before caller ID), her mom’s piano where I tried hopelessly to learn to sing, the musty basement where we discovered old prom dresses.
We used to melt Mexican Velveeta in the microwave for nachos, experiment with makeup in the bathroom and fall asleep on beanbags.
She even had me sleep in her former room, for old time’s sake. I chose the daybed instead of the floor.
Sarah and I threw several bizarre theme parties in middle school, including one at my house where guests were instructed to wear red, white and blue or military fatigues to celebrate Flag Day.
During a slumber party, I once brought out the midnight snack ó a huge bowl full of raw cookie dough.
We hosted a beauty pageant and talent show in Sarah’s backyard, where the guests had to do their hair and makeup, wear old prom gowns and perform songs that Sarah and I wrote.
And then we judged them.
Who invites their friends to a party to judge them, to give “constructive” criticism?
At the reunion, our old friends laughed at us and our nutty parties, and Tara even belted out every word to the infamous “Don’t Have a Cow.” We recalled that Amy, statuesque and skillful at crooning made-up songs like “Gag Me With a Spoon,” went on to win the competition.
Somewhere, I’m pretty sure I still have our judges’ comments. Karyn, who has refused to join Facebook despite my pleas, said if I find those critiques and post them, she will finally sign up.
I hope, one day, my kids will remember their middle school years and laugh and think how lucky they were to have had such a childhood.
And I hope they have wonderful friends to do it with.
Now, I need to find an old scrapbook, the one with Garfield the cat on the cover. I think Sarah had a matching one.
Emily Ford covers the N.C. Research Campus.