Back to school

By the end of school in June, William was quite ready to be loosed for the summer. He was restless and when William gets restless, he generally gets himself into trouble as well. Little boys who get in trouble at school lose recess time. Not having a chance to blow off his excess energy led to even more behavior problems.

His behavior was being discussed regularly, both in school and at home. At one point, he said, “I’m just tired of being cooped up.” While we all had some amount of sympathy for his situation, we also knew the importance of behaving appropriately. I’m sure that he thought that the school year would never end. I’m certain that his teacher felt the same way. I know I did.

The school year did end, of course, and William was turned loose. He worked with his grandpa, earned a tidy pile of dollars, got his fidget spinner and a number of other desires of his heart. He went camping on Friday nights, had plenty of cousin time, built a dam in the creek, watched fireworks, did science experiments, firefly catching, ran around with sparklers. June fed into July, and July turned into August.

We began to prepare him for his return to school. He was decidedly not enthused. He helped me pick out some shirts, but his heart was not in it. “Aren’t you a little excited to be going back to school?” He snapped right back. “Why do we always have to talk about school? Why can’t we talk about summer?”

Hm. His mother was a bit concerned. So were grandpa and I.

August trickled through his fingers and finally, it was the day before school started.

He was wound up. I was cooking lunch when I heard grandpa yell at William. Since Grandpa is not a yeller by nature, I knew something was up. As I headed to the livingroom, William came bursting out of it, his lower lip quivering dangerously.

“What happened?” I asked. William flung himself into his chair at the kitchen table and buried his face in his arms.

Grandpa explained that he’d been throwing things in his playroom/our office. Despite being sternly warned not to stop throwing things in the house, William had thrown a ball which crashed directly into the anniversary clock on the table beside the computer desk. So Grandpa yelled.

Since grandpa rarely raises his voice, William took it pretty hard.

His words were muffled by his arms but he said, “I feel like I’m in trouble.”

I said in a practical tone, “Well, you are. You did something you were told not to do and you got in trouble.”

His voice filtered through his arms again. “I feel like I’m grounded.”

I continued on in my no-nonsense grandma voice. “No one said anything about you being grounded. But William, you’ve been warned about throwing things in the house. A lot. Just a couple weeks ago, I took Woody away from you because you would not stop throwing him down the stairs. Remember that?”

The muffled yes came. “Well, when you choose to do the wrong thing, you get in trouble. That’s how you learn not to do that thing again. You did a wrong thing and grandpa yelled at you but the clock did not break and next time, I’ll bet that you remember why we do not throw things in the house, right?”

But his face stayed buried in his arms.

“William,” I said, don’t you think you’re being a bit dramatic?”

And the muffled words came. “I’m afraid that I will be a bad boy in school this year.”


And so we talked about school, and the rules of school. We talked about how much he’d grown up over the summer and how sure we were that this year would be better. We talked about the importance of doing the right thing even if the kid sitting next to him wasn’t doing the right thing. We talked about choices, reminding him that he could simply choose to do the right thing. He ate his lunch quietly, listening.

His mama came to pick him up after work. He had a lunch box full of rice krispie treats that we’d made “from a scratch” and wrapped individually for his lunches for the week. He got his hugs and kisses and went out the door with his new Ninja Turtle lunch box. I watched him go down the driveway hand in hand with his mother. There was no cheerful chatter.

I had to work the next morning, but Grandpa met William and his mama at McDonalds for the first day of school breakfast. At work, I kept my head down and worked and prayed for a good first day of school.

I got home from work and shortly afterwards, one little boy with spikey hair showed up at my door with his mama. His smile was wide and he was chattering a mile a minute.

William loved his teacher and he loved his desk, he has an old friend from last year in his class and he’d made new friends too. He liked his lunch but he didn’t have time to eat his rice krispy treat but he would save it for tomorrow. One of his smell good pencils had broken because he didn’t know how to use the teacher’s pencil sharpener. He philosophically observed that it was lucky that he had three more.

He went on a great length about the details of his momentous day and finished it up with “I LOVE school, and I can’t wait for tomorrow!” I think we all breathed a little sigh of relief.

The first day of school is important. It sets the tone for the whole year. From the sounds of it, William is on track to have a good one. Thank you, Mrs. Jones.