Back to School

Today while watching the morning news, eating breakfast, drinking coffee, feeding the baby, and cleaning carpet stains (just another morning!), I noticed the abundance of back-to-school commercials. I’m sure these commercials have been running for weeks, if not months; but, forgive me, I’ve been spreading myself too thin these days to notice.

I froze for a second, thinking really? already?! And then it hit me. School starts next week.

For the first time in 24 years, I will not be going back to school after labour day.

After 19 years of formal schooling, and 5 years of schooling the next generation of wannabe-me’s, my school days have come to an abrupt halt. Okay, so maybe it isn’t as abrupt as I’m making it sound; I am, after all, 9-months into my maternity leave. However, I do find myself suddenly missing this exciting time. This time last year I would have had all my desks organized, my bulletin boards and walls decorated, my first week of activities planned, and, of course, like any good stand-up comedian teacher, I’d be putting finishing touches on my obviously lame, but still chuckle-worthy, Science and Math jokes.

Not this year. This year, I didn’t even notice the end of summer approach. This year, after 24 years of learning and sharing my learning, I realized the true value of what I had been taught. It had little to do with Science and Math, or any school subject for that matter. This year was a practical evaluation of my nearly two and a half decades of schooling.

Organization, time-management, and the importance of routine – these are life skills that my parents and teachers had taught me, and, quite frankly, they are what is keeping my head above water these days. Of course, by ‘water’ I mean vomit, poop, dirty dishes and laundry.

Being a parent is a true test of how good at life you are. Those who have trouble keeping their own shit together find themselves falling short when the baby’s poop hits the fan. Because the reality is that now you’ve go two people to take care of; and if you’ve always done a mediocre job at taking care of yourself, you’re going to do a mediocre job at taking care of the other human being you’re responsible for.

Thankfully, it’s not a pass/fail test. It’s open book. So, while we all stumble along the way, I’ve realized the most important thing is to continue to learn. It was the most important “take home” lesson during my schooling years, and it continues to be the most important lesson in the real world.

Learn from your own mistakes, and, if you are very smart, from the mistakes of others.
Learn from those around you – no one is too young, too small, too inexperienced, or too dumb to teach you.
Learn from the situations that life presents – every challenge is an opportunity for personal growth and achievement.

To my colleagues returning to school next week, the lessons you teach in the classroom will linger for a lifetime. The lessons you learn, will too.

Published by Anjali Joshi

Anjali Joshi is a science educator, author, and lifelong learner. She is mom to two curious boys who keep her on her toes!

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