COLUMN: School days are here again (Whoopee!)

This is my weekly column for the Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

School days are here again (Whoopee!)
By Aaron J. Brown

I’m a teacher by trade so I’m always revved up for the school year. A new school year means new students, new opportunities and a fresh new chance to do your job better. Not everyone gets a moment like this and I appreciate it.

But this is the first year I’m also itching for my kids to go back to school, too. Kids. They’re great. They’re cute and funny and we love them. And they need to go to school.

Our oldest Henry is 6 and he’ll be a first grader. You learn a lot in first grade. More words. Number stuff. I really don’t care. He needs to go to school.

The twins, Doug and George, they’re 4 and have an array of preschool activities on tap. They’re going to prepare for kindergarten, expand their hungry minds and … well, I suppose other things, too. Mostly they need to go school.

Over the last few weeks a writhing pile of boys has been crying, laughing or yelling. It’s hard to tell which is which and, anyway, all three sounds are usually going at once.

Summer vacation is something of a vestigial remainder of an agrarian U.S. society where the kids were expected to till the fields, reap the harvest and field dress the wild boar. Most other industrialized countries send their kids to school longer which is probably an indirect reason our country can’t manufacture electronics.

Nevertheless, because of tourism, tradition and a few other factors, we’ve held on to the long summer break despite the fact that these kids need to be in school pretty much all the time, except on evenings and weekends and major holidays. There is research supporting this. I’ve seen it. It was some article. I think it was titled “What the heck, guys? What did you break? Seriously?” by Dr. Stopit Iamonthephone.

When Henry got on the school bus for the first time last year we felt all the usual emotions. It’s bittersweet watching your child become independent. We’re reminded of the constant change found in life, and our own mortality. If I was in the business of writing poetry, I would have had lots to work with last year. This year, with so many boys all gaining independent minds all at the same time, in the same house, in the same room, well, let’s just say I have a solution. It’s called sending them to school.

I remember when I was a kid I overheard my mom talking to someone about how much she was looking forward to school starting. My thought then was, “Me too!” I loved school. I was a nerd. But it is only now that I realize she wasn’t talking about my bourgeoning opportunity to gain knowledge. It probably something to do with all the awful things I did to my sisters and other assorted valuables around the house.

It’s probably no small coincidence that my wife told me this week she was glad I was going back to work (school). I’ve been milling around the house, leaving things out and making messes. I get bored and when I get bored I make bad decisions. I need to go back to school, too.

I love being a parent for many of the same reasons I love living in Minnesota. The seasons churn constantly and nothing is permanent. Life is a spitting, cascading overflow of change and only in the rare little quiet moments do you realize that you’ve changed too, occasionally for the better.

So sure, I’m glad for the school year to start. But my reasons for doing so have never been so many, so varied, or so much related to the relative safety of the dog, the breakables and the furniture. I love my kids. It’s exciting to watch them grow, learn and develop into people who I hope have lots of lots of children just like them.

And it’s time for us to go to school.

Aaron J. Brown is a writer and Hibbing Community College speech instructor. He is the author of the blog and the book “Overburden: Modern Life on the Iron Range.”


  1. We also live with a school year calander. I like the newness that it brings to each year. A chance to start over and try again. The change of the seasons and the start and end of the school year are good incentives to get things done.


  2. I have to say, as a father of four young boys, that I really don’t share any eagerness to remove them from my household for any particular reason, public schooling included. And as a solution it is a relatively recent one, without great precedent.

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