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Going To School Like This
In the continuing tales of my youth, comes a memory of laughing in the face of dread.
While I was a good student, I didn’t much care for going to school. Often, at the end of summer vacations, I sobbed (quietly, as you’d be mocked for crying) in my bed clutching a stuffed baby seal (a stuffed animal, not actually made out of a baby seal). Why couldn’t summer vacation go on forever? Why did I have to go back to school? And soon it would be cold. Cold! Oh, how I hate the cold.
Sleeping disorders wouldn’t start until my teenage years, so previous to that, I did wake with energy when the sun came up. Though, I didn’t want to spend this energy at school. I was always an anxious kid. I hated the idea of going to school. Having to be around other kids. Math. Getting called on. Yuk! Leaving my sister and brother. My Mom, especially. I had some serious separation anxiety when it came to my Mom. Mom was all the good things: love, safety, comfort, fun. The world: scary.
A youthful heart generated a rebellious spirit, but I was also always bent on doing the right thing (whatever the hell that means, am I right?). Even back then, I knew the world had certain guidelines that were for the best of humanity. But I also felt that while rules were in place to increase the safety and quality of our lives, that didn’t mean it would, or that it was even the best option. So, when I went to school, I was careful not to cause anyone grief… teachers and students (but mostly teachers). It sucked. I didn’t want to be there. In first grade, I used to click my heels like Dorothy, “there’s no place like home,” close my eyes and think of my parents, siblings, cousins… wishing the school day away, watching the clock. Soon it would be over and I could run around outside, barefoot. Watch TV with my family and a giant bowl of ice cream in front of me. The torture of school! Oh, the torture!
In those early elementary years, we’d get up and have breakfast in our (most likely Disney themed) pajamas. Dad was usually gone by then. He had to be at work early. But the plus side was, when most my friends’ white collar father’s worked late, my Dad was home early most of the time, coming home shortly after we did from school.
After breakfast, my Mom would send us upstairs to change into our clothes. My Mom picked out our outfits for school the night before. This is a habit I’ve maintained to this day (you wouldn’t tell given how poorly my fashion sense is that I actually plan it the night before). Also, oddly, a weird OCD tick of mine was that my underwear had to match my shirt (the underwear and socks also picked out the night before). Because I was rather silly and didn’t want to go to school, I would put on one article of clothing at a time and then skip around my house singing a song I made up, the lyrics go, “I’m going to school like this! I’m going to school like this!” If you ask, I can sing you the melody, as could my siblings and Mom since I did this so frequently.
So. I would be skipping and dancing around my house in my underwear singing, “I’m going to school like this! I’m going to school like this!” It was equal parts annoying/cute/funny to my Mom because she would yell at me for running around in my underwear but she would do so while laughing because it was so stupid. I’d go back to my room and put on my socks and then skip around my house in underwear and socks, “I’m going to school like this, I’m going to school like this!” And then the shirt. And then the pants. You get it.
Sometimes my brother would join in, so you’d have two half naked kids running around the house gleefully chanting, “I’m going to school like this!” Most kids have nightmares of going to school in their underwear and I was threatening to go to school in my underwear. This is why it’s so disarming to my family members when they find out how shy I was. Because I was literally singing and dancing in my underwear, an utterly if not overly ridiculous person, but as soon as I stepped on the bus I was crippled with shyness, not willing to make eye contact with anyone.
I think if you asked my siblings about my “going to school like this” dance, they’d both roll their eyes and tell you how annoying and weird I was (haha). But there’s something admirable about being a complete goofball about doing something you dread. I see it in my nephew and niece now too. Sometimes when we’re trying to get ready to go somewhere, they’ll start being silly to delay the process, thinking they’re being both funny AND cute. The problem is, they are both funny and cute, but they still have to put on their goddamn shoes.
Perhaps there’s a lesson here. Perhaps that lesson is just because you have to do things, school or jobs or errands, that you don’t necessarily want to do, you don’t have to dread the moments leading up to it. Why? You’re just extending your suffering. Better to laugh at it. As always. I’m not saying to dance around in your underwear in the mornings (unless it brings you an unprecedented amount of joy and annoys your older sister while doing so, added bonus), but doing something playful in the morning maybe is a key to setting the tone for the day.
Just a thought. A thought I had in my underwear.