Monday, September 12, 2011

Ready—or Not—for School—by Jamie Levine

Jayda’s Pre-K open house was this past Friday afternoon and she couldn’t have been more excited about attending it. We headed to the school with two of her friends, and when we got there, Jayda was reunited with a bunch of her other beloved classmates. And between visiting all of her old teachers, hanging out with her new ones (and testing out all their classroom toys), playing in the school playground, searching for her old bus driver, and hugging a bunch of my mommy-friends along the way, Jayda spent over two hours at her school—while some kids ran in and out in less than twenty minutes.

I wish I shared Jayda’s back-to-school enthusiasm, but after enjoying a rather fun and relaxing summer, starting graduate school is rather challenging for me. My Speech-Language Pathology classes started yesterday—and consist of two three-hour-and-forty-five minute classes, with a forty-five minute break in between. And unlike Jayda, who is thrilled about being reunited with her best buds, I’m not attending school with any of my friends. Of course I’ve already exchanged numbers and email addresses with a handful of my classmates, but everyone in the program is fifteen to twenty years my junior, so I don’t expect to make lifelong friends. However, it is a bright group of young women (entrance to my program was highly competitive), so at the very least, engaging academically with my classmates should be rewarding.

But grad school isn’t all fun and games. Since my classes are on an expedited eight-week-cycle, there’s a whole lot of work concentrated into a short period of time. I don’t regret my choice of this program—it offers the best schedule for a single mother and it’s at a great university—but I can already feel the stress I finally released this summer building back up inside of me again. With four tests, three big projects, and countless short, weekly assignments looming ahead of me in the next seven weeks, the pressure’s back on. And next semester, I’ll have my own caseload of clients to add to the class work. Working in the clinic will be a great experience for me, and part of me is excited about the prospect, but most of what I’m feeling right now is overwhelmed.

Jayda was so excited to hear about my first day at school. She needed to know the names of my professors (and what they were wearing), as well as the names of all the new friends I’d made. She was surprised that the teachers didn’t have any snacks for us—and pleased to hear that I’d brought my own. And she offered to help me with my homework, since I’ve already told her I’ll be helping her with hers. Jayda’s experiencing major language development in her classroom, and I’m learning all about it in mine. It’s going to be an interesting school year for both of us.


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