It’s that time of year. My favorite time of the school year — the day kids go back to school. For years I’ve watched the parade of neighbors walking their children to school and it makes me feel like something is right in the world. I sit on the front porch with a cup of coffee, usually Deeter is at my side, and we wait to see the new school clothes, the hair done up special, the giddiness of kids, their shouts to old friends. It feels like a rite of passage and I get a front row seat. A little bitter sweet since it’s a rare time I am struck that I will never walk my own child to school, but it also fills me with such joy to see the kids anticipation, fear and excitement of the first day of school.
I’m taken back to my childhood walking to school. A simpler time perhaps, and certainly a time when more kids walked and more kids walked without parents. I wonder who watched me along the way? How often did I dawdle and linger or race because I was running late? I know my siblings and I always walked those first years when we lived a couple of blocks from the Bryant Elementary in Sioux City, Iowa.
Living a block from Kimball Elementary means we watch the parade to school every day through every season and every type of weather. Best, we get to see neighbor kids growing up and growing more confident in the world around them. When not outside, we spy on them from the kitchen window usually laughing at their antics and delighting in their curiosity about the garden or cat in the basket.
You know, we spy on the old Asian ladies who walk by too. They stop, lean over the fence and point. Sometimes it looks like disapproval, sometimes it looks like curiosity, sometimes they seem pleased. Everyday they seem to see something different. And I hope that’s what a walk around the neighborhood or to school is all about.