Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Let freedom ring. . .

Let me preface this by saying that I love my children. I.love.my.children.
I also love the First Day of School. Public education is one of the most glorious instutions in this great country of ours. I respect and admire people that homeschool. It's wonderful that we have choices. However, for the safety of my children, I could never do it.
The First Day of School became a holiday of sorts in my family way back when my brothers and I were kids. Like most families in the 60s, my mother was a stay-at-home-mom. She loved being a homemaker. She loved us kids. But after weeks and weeks of summer heat and close proximity with kids -- her own and the rest of the neighborhood -- she celebrated when that marvelous day finally arrived: The First Day of School.
In jubilation, she would run to the hall closet where the American flag was kept at the ready for every national holiday. In a flourish of enthusiasm she would unfurl it and stick it in its bracket by the front door. "It's time to hang out the flag, she'd say, one of her favorite expressions for marking an occasion of great significance.
"That's disrespectful to the American flag," we would protest. "It's unconstitutional."
To which she recited, from her handbook on Care and Use of the American Flag, "The flag is hung in times of patriotism and celebration." We couldn't argue with her. My mother was as patriotic as the day is long.
For years, we'd hurry out the door on the First Day of School, past Old Glory and my mother on the front porch, waving good-bye -- a bit too eagerly I always thought. Eventually, our next door neighbor joined in when her kids became school-aged. In confusion one year, another neighbor hung his flag, too, probably scratching his head trying to figure out what the holiday was.
Now, as a mother myself, I understand my mother's thinking. In fact, the tradition has spread to my generation. On the first day of school as I bid my kids good-bye, the flag is flapping in the breeze. Two blocks down from me, my cousin has her flag flying when her four kids rush off to catch the first bus of the season. Even my Australian sister-in-law displays the stars and stripes on her day of emancipation.
The more things change, the more things stay the same. A mother's joy on the First Day of School is one of them. Don't let those tears at the kindergarten door fool you. By next year and the years that follow, most mothers are whooping with glee


Boomeyers said...

Amen my friend!! We are lucky to have year round school for the elementary and it was a LONG month before the middle and high schooler followed. Happy days!!

Tristi Pinkston said...

You know, as a homeschooling mom, there are indeed times when I worry about my children's safety . . . :) Here are some examples:

"Mom, he's shaking the table."

"You're lying!"

"Mom, he really is shaking the table. I can't concentrate this way."

(Shaking table child throws a marker)

Yeah, safety is a good thing.

Lynne said...

I love the idea of flying the flag on the first day of school!

Boy, was I glad when Shelby started back to school. She wasn't around that much this summer, with working and hanging around with her friends, but it's really nice to have the house to myself - almost. Dom's home Sunday through Thursday. Fridays are MY days!

Becky said...

Ha! I LOVE this. So true. So honest. So good. I also love that we do things that our moms did, just because they did. Tra--dishuuuuuuun! Tradition! (Picture Fiddler on the Roof)

Stacy at Exceedingly Mundane said...

Great post, Karen! So glad you are celebrating that wonderful rite of passage :)

Karen said...

Oh, you are too funny! I can soooo relate. My mom always loved to see that day come!
Thank you for your prayers this week. We're slowly recovering.

kim said...

Lucky you!!! Because the years that I was a stay at home mom, I homeschooled, I have never experienced that wonderful feeling of the first day of school the same way you have! I used to get excited our first day but in a different way. My boys don't start until Septembe 4th, so we are still enjoying summer here--well what should be summer. We are having very cruddy weather this year. It has been cloudy and gray all week which is very unusual for this time of year. I am a fall girl, and am looking forward to some pretty fall days. Enjoy your freedom!

Write From Karen said...

What a fun tradition! I should implement something like that ... once I get past the tears. Yes, I confess, I cried this morning (first day of school) but you know what?

I'm getting over it. *evil grin*

(Discovered your blog over at Exceedingly Mundane and GLAD I did!!)

kris said...

That is too funny!! I was always happy to see my kids head back to school too - except that it meant the end of summer for me too. But a house all to yourself - yeah, that's something to treasure!

justabeachkat said...

Boy, do I remember how excited the children were and me too. Once the door closed and they were on their way, I did a little happy dance. LOL


Judy said...

Oh, I LOVE this post!

What a tradition!