|This week’s column is written by Jinny’s daughter, Adele.
I was watching TV the other day and saw a commercial where a father is cavorting around a store impishly, buying his two unhappy children school supplies. The implication, of course, is that he is thrilled that they are going back to school and they are miserable.
Frankly, I find this commercial disturbing. If he is so delighted to get rid of his kids, why did he have them in the first place? Personally, I have always hated sending my kids back to school. I have always thoroughly enjoyed having them around and they have never been enormous fans of school as an institution. They all did well, but they didn’t love it by any means.
My 10-year-old, Chuck, started the new school year yesterday. I took vacation for a week leading into school starting, so when Tuesday rolled around we were both facing returning to the salt mines the next day. There was a discernable pall which shrouded both our moods.
We decided to make cookies in an attempt to lighten the atmosphere. Chuck loves Molasses cookies and we enjoy making them together. I decided to use the occasion to probe him for the rationale surrounding his dislike for school.
“Chuck”, I said casually, “Just out of curiosity, how come you hate school so much?”
He shrugged as he stirred the cookies. “Because it is boring.”
That was clear enough. School is boring.
“Do you find learning boring?” I asked him.
“No, Mother.” He responded. “Learning is interesting. School is boring.”
“So, do you think it’s a matter of style, then?” I asked.
He looked at me with raised eyebrows. “I can’t believe you just put ‘school’ and ‘style’ in the same sentence.”
“Okay,” I agreed. “School has no style. What else don’t you like about it?”
“Bullies.” He said.
“Are there a lot of bullies?” I asked with concern.
“More than anyone knows.” He answered.
“Oh, dear.” I said.
“And snobby, nasty girls who are mean to pretty much anyone who is not in their snobby, nasty club.” He added.
“I remember them.” I told him. “They’ve been around forever.”
“And awful food.” He stated.
“Since there are approximately 5 food items that you will actually eat, Chuck,” I said dismissively, “I’m not sure you are the best judge of that.”
“Ask anyone, they’ll tell you the same thing” He assured me. I had no doubt that he was correct.
Is there anything you like about school?” I asked hopefully.
“Sure, my friends, some of the teachers, the library, gym, art, music. The usual,” He said.
“That’s good to know.” I told him.
“Of course,” He continued, “There is one thing I hate more than anything else, and I really hate it.”
I was almost afraid to ask. “What’s that?”
“The bus ride.” He said with the same tone of voice he might use for hideous zombies or vile diseases. “It’s long and hot and uncomfortable and noisy and unpleasant. In short, brutal.”
I reflected for a moment on the nature of existence and the incomprehensible properties of change. “Why is it,” I asked Chuck in a rhetorical fashion, “that so much of our lives and culture is constantly in flux, evolving and morphing almost continuously, while other aspects of our world appear to be in some form of gruesome stasis, as unchanging as the certainty of birth and death?
Chuck looked at me askance. “Is that your snooty way of wondering why the school bus ride stinks, has always stunk, and will stink until the end of time?”
“Er…well…yeah.” I stammered.
“Simple,” he shrugged. “Because, like school, it is what it is.”
It is what it is. How true, about so many things. My son, the junior philosopher. Do they have a special school for that?