The narrow dirt road, lined with tall grasses, weeds and flowers – straight for a mile, past our neighbor’s yard with their two huge German Shepherds – who always bark at us, turn and another two miles of narrow road to the school house, surrounded by trees we play war, build forts and play tag. Beneath the trees are cool, packed paths to run on. There is the teacher’s cottage and there is a huge barn where we keep our horses.
The teacher goes to the cabin for the lunch hour. There is no one to supervise us – oddly there is never a case anyone needs to be taken to the hospital either. We fight – vocally and physically – and we manage to solve our own problems. We don’t realize it’s not the way it should be done according to experts. We learn rarely are people real bullies – so much as their establishing authority. It is a fact, the older, stronger ones gain that authority. But they are not all mean in their authority. They tease sometimes and sometimes they are valuable teachers as younger ones strive to do what older children can. They are also protectors and compassionate when need be. Not all are mean or bullies, nor assumed to be so.
But we are happy to be back in school. Learning, books, new pencils, new notebooks and especially playing with someone besides siblings (or waiting for Sundays to play with cousins) is welcomed. The tired month is gone.
Sometimes the teacher is busy. She asks that the older children work with the younger. It is a time of heady power. The power of being a boss. But we are aware the teacher is still there to supervise. We pretend to play teacher – or we daydream because of the boring, work already learned. I am the latter. We learn patience. It is odd to realize someone can’t learn after you explain it. Each older student reacts differently. Although not seeming to, the teacher knows who is better for her ‘substitute’ teacher. Those are the ones she picks most often. It’s not me – my motto is ‘God grant me patience – right now.’
There are four and then five of my family going to school now. I am now one of the oldest (my sister bows to my knowledge – being as she is afraid of horses) and I control the pace of the horse and I learn the responsibility of taking care of him. One brother and I now unharness, look after the horse – because it’s a task we want to do. My sister goes inside to help mom with our anticipated supper. We go in and always have delicious snacks to munch on until supper is ready.
School is welcome and anticipated from a summer that is turning into boredom.