The Third Third

The First Day of School, Again

Do you remember how much bigger – and older – you felt walking into a fourth grade classroom on the first day of school, compared to when you were a third grader? As I recall, even the desks were larger in the fourth grade classrooms, but perhaps that didn’t really happen until fifth grade. In any case, it felt good to be so much older and wiser on the first day of school; and, along with such self-importance, I can sense the excitement and high degree of expectancy I carried with me – *Oh, the Things I’d Learn!* I can almost smell the new leather of my as-yet-uncreased penny-loafers and the scent of the unscarred loaf-shaped green eraser sitting atop time-blackened initials carved deeply into my desk, next to the useless old inkwell hole. It is always a first day of school for me when September rolls around, every September, even though the cooler nights and crisp apples of Ohio’s fall season bypass Texas. I only wish I still felt so good and so expectant about it all. I wish I were happier to think myself older and wiser. Instead I am dreading the assignment I sense is coming: *Adjust, will you please, to being older. And stop being so damned expectant; there’s not all that much to look forward to.* Regressing to the behavior of a third grader who knows he’s about to be reprimanded and doesn’t want to face it, I want to cover my ears and go “La-la-la-la-la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you” until the message ends. Stand me in the corner, if you will. Or send me out in the hall where the principal might find and paddle me. Anything. Just don’t short-change my expectations. Not yet. Not this year. I am simply not of a mind to stop growing and learning. It depresses me to think I could be, that any of us might be. It distresses me very much. We might become, as they say of crotchety old ladies, “set in our ways.” I don’t want to. Instead, I want to use more of my computer’s power, figure out how to download some “apps” to my i-phone, establish a new Twitter account, introduce myself to opera, read at least three books on investing and/or the economy, take some more bridge lessons, try at least one new recipe a week, self-improve by not being late to any engagement involving other people, and expand my blogging experiences. Plus write at least two hours – preferably three – every weekday. I’d still like to learn Spanish, but that’s really old news and I’m just not very good at it. Which brings me to the main difference between this September and that one, long ago, in 1956, when I was “going-into” fourth grade: there’s no time to waste now. Life at this end of the spectrum is too short and I know it. So I don’t have to do the things I don’t want to, or can’t do. Recess, however, continues to be important, though I doubt that I’ll be spinning around the monkey bars worried about exposing my Carter’s spanky underpants. I would if I could, but . . . .
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