I am nearing the end of my second semester back at university, in my quest for my teaching degree. While there continue to be high points and low points, I have gotten into the swing of things. It’s been a struggle to make time for my own schoolwork with my kids on summer vacation, but they’re in summer camp this week so that helps. To quote the opening credits of 19 Kids and Counting (a show I am embarrassed to admit I am addicted to), “It isn’t always easy, but somehow we make it all work.” Mostly.
I had a good inkling that I would do all right in my classes. I have always been a good student. Schoolwork came easily to me from the start. My delightfully neurotic nature helps, because I really do care and want to do well. I get good grades, I raise my hand in class, I work hard and I hand my assignments in on time.
When I hit puberty my academic success caused a lot of conflict for me. I didn’t really want to be the smart girl, because it didn’t really make me popular. The other girls in my elementary school were often annoyed by me. The boys, when they started to pay attention, were put off by the fact I got better marks than they did. I tried to play it down, play dumb, speak up less, make myself blend in. It never really worked. Looking back I’m glad I wasn’t more successful at making myself into someone I’m not. At the time it was hard, though.
Going back to school, I wasn’t sure I would do as well academically. After all, my brain isn’t getting any younger. I’ve noticed that my memory isn’t what it was when I was 18 years old anymore. I also have a whole lot more going on, with kids and work and a house to take care of.
The good news is that while I might be older, my life experiences have actually proven very helpful. As a parent I’ve had to become much more organized and focused. I procrastinate less, and get things done more. I know how to prioritize, because if I didn’t dinner would never get made. My life is a bit of a balancing act, but luckily I have a lot of experience with balancing acts at this point, so that’s to the good. As a result, I am still a good student.
My daughter Hannah and I have been re-reading Harry Potter together again recently, and the combination of re-entering that literary world and being back at school has driven home for me how very much I am like Hermione Granger. I like to follow rules. I raise my hand a lot in class. And I’ve even found myself reading my textbooks to unwind. On a recent exam, I spotted an error in the answer key. I get my work done ahead of schedule, and talk about what I’m learning in class to anyone who will listen. Typing all of this out I want to apologize for it. I feel that same conflict I felt when I was 13. I’m worried that people will find me insufferable, and they won’t like me.
One other advantage of age, though, is realizing that you can’t please everyone. No matter what, someone will disagree with you, question you, or just plain dislike you. Given that, you might as well just please yourself. So, go ahead, call me Hermione. I can be the smart girl, who is good at school and actually enjoys the academic process, and not apologize for it. In fact, I am that girl, and pretty much everyone who’s ever sat in class with me knows it, so there’s no use in pretending. Instead, I can let my inner geek loose, to revel in academia.
Now, if only I had the ability to get my kitchen to magically clean itself, life would be perfect.