By Joe Rector

Last Monday was one of those days that knocks the wind out of my sails. Nothing terrible happened, unless my only grandchild’s starting high school is shocking to anyone who isn’t in our family. I didn’t talk to him last night because I figured Madden and his parents needed time to review the day’s events. All those feelings came sweeping in as I thought about my boy throughout the day.

The first day of high school was one filled with fear for me. At least I had Jim with me. He might have been as scared as I was, but he never acted as if he were. As soon as the bus arrived at school, we searched for our friends from Ball Camp and shuffled through the hallways in a tightly packed mass. None of us dared to step out on our own; we’d heard the stories of how seniors greeted “newbies.” No boy wanted to push a penny with his nose down the main hall. Every freshman boy feared offending a senior and then being escorted to the banks of Beaver Creek, where he was tossed in the water by the upperclassmen. Most of us dreaded new classes, such as algebra and English, because our former teachers told horror stories of the demands of teachers in high school.

I’m not sure how frightened my children were on that first day of high school. Both had come to the school to wait for me to finish the workday and take them home. They had become familiar with the layout of the school. In fact, I learned after Dallas graduated that he used to visit the faculty restrooms instead of going into student facilities. Lacey always was the rebel. She never dared to show fear or concern over any possible problem that might arise. She acted as if she couldn’t have cared less if seniors bothered her. Dallas, on the other hand, was a schmoozer that got along with teachers, as well as seniors. Lacey always pushed back against rules and authority. In her later years in school, that defiance landed her in trouble a couple of times. My son and his buddies pulled goofy pranks characteristic of freshmen boys. I am sure he gave ninth graders plenty of grief during his senior year. Lacey didn’t care about partaking in such ridiculous acts. She had bigger things taking her time. No, I have no idea what they were and do not want to know. Sometimes parents are better off not knowing everything their children do.

I hope that Madden survived the day. I’m sure he did. He has enough friends to help him during this first week of learning a new school and understanding the demands of classes. He is in band, a place where freshmen can feel safe and make new friends. By the end of the week, I’m sure Madden will have figured things out and will find the whole school thing boring. He is a bright boy who excels in math and struggles in English. Those are the qualities of so many students I taught. Most made wonderful engineers and scientists. I hope that my grandson pays attention to his classes but still finds time to have fun and make some memories that will last his lifetime. It’s hard to believe that he’s so grown up so soon. I miss him as a little guy but look forward to hearing the tales he’ll tell of events and people in high school. He’s just growing up too soon.