The Last Monday of Summer

Tanya Ward Goodman

By: Tanya Ward Goodman

It is the Monday before school starts.

Night is coming on just a shade faster than it did last week.  The evening is a little bit cooler.  It is September.

My kids have been feeling the transition for weeks.  My boy becomes in turns more violent and sensitive.  My girl’s drama heads toward the operatic.

“What was second grade like for you?” she asks.

Second grade was great for me.  I tell my daughter about Mrs. Netz, the teacher in the Red Room.  She wore pantsuits every day and accessorized with brooches shaped like cats or flowers.  She wore a miniature version of the Old Woman’s Shoe on a chain around her neck and could flip it back to reveal all the children inside.  She encouraged me to write. She loaned me books. She called me a friend.

“How can second grade be as good as first grade?” she asks.

I tell her that it will be different.  But it can still be good.

“Then I will do my best,” she says.  “I will be a good listener.”

My son says, “I hate school.”  He says, “It can’t be worse than last year.”

I keep my fingers crossed that this year will be better.  Stories of my fourth grade teacher (the eraser thrower, the shouter, the angry silent stare) are of no consolation so I keep them to myself.  Instead, I give him Harriet the Spy and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.  I praise him for doing well on the standardized test and together we go over his recommended reading list.

“Hey” he says, “I’ve already read a lot of these books.”

He’s pleased with himself.

He should be and I’m determined to keep it that way.

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