new shoes

I am a graduate school academic administrator and for the past twenty years I have lived by the ebb and flow of the academic calendar.  Labour Day is my New Year’s Eve.  Granted, Times Square’s crystal-encrusted ball is impressive, but nothing sparkles like freshly laminated student ID cards.  They are an administrative thing of beauty.

Annually, the last two weeks of August are a blur of bureaucratic activity and faculty finagling as I set things in order for Orientation and Registration Week.  I have lists referring to lists of lists of pressing matters and looming deadlines.  The tyranny of the urgent in bullet-point. 

This year was no different.  …except for one thing.

I left work early on Friday.  One whole glorious hour early.

If I dared to admit it, and risk the wrath of Mr. Murphy and his dumb law, I was ready.  Everything was in order.  My work was done.  So I was outa there.

Now, one would think that I might be rather self-congratulatory as I commuted home on a sparsely populated subway in the pre-rush-hour mid-Friday afternoon of a Labour Day weekend.  But no.  I was too preoccupied with reviewing my mental list of lists of lists.  Madly, I might add.  Feeling neither pride nor happiness nor any particular sense of preparedness for the new academic year.  No, instead, I felt as though I had just slipped the chains of a working weekend.

And then I saw her.  Sitting opposite me.  Between her parents.  Swinging her legs up and down, gleefully admiring her squeaky-clean brand-spanking-new pink floral-printed sneakers.  …resplendent with iridescent sequins.  The look on her face was a fantastic mixture of big-girl pride and giddy delight to sport such sparkly shoes.   This girl was ready.  Bring on the new school year!  She had fancy footwear and glittery gumption.

I figure she must have been six.  Which means she is most likely starting Grade One today.  And that gave me pause.  Grade One.  No more half-day or partial-week kindergarten.  She’s joining the big kids.  Five full days each week.  Hopefully, for at least the next twelve years. 

And so it begins.  Again.

My mother tells a story of my second day of kindergarten.  Apparently she gently woke me, and told me that it was time to get ready for school.  To which, I am told, I said with utter innocence, “Oh no, Mommy.  I already went.  I liked it.”

That was forty years ago.  And I continue to go.  And I still like it. 

I simply need new shoes.

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