Cadence bounces off the bus, long silky hair fluttering behind her like a flag in the wind. She looks similar to the girl I used to greet last year from the elementary school bus, but she is one hour earlier, several inches taller and sporting a purse over her shoulder. Each day she rummages through her wardrobe, layering old, outdated pieces with the few new additions; accessorizing to complete a package she feels wonderful to be wrapped in.
“Hey!” She says, sparkle in her voice. It is the third day of fifth grade and she seems to be getting the hang of things. “I had a greeaaat day! Madeline and I are great friends again and we traded shoes for almost the whole day! I remembered I had some of my own money, a five, so I bought ice cream at lunch. Oh, and I have lunch money on my debit card,” She says, throwing her backpack to the ground and making a bee line for the kitchen.
I remind her that we have not sent in money to her account and that she has no balance on her card yet. “Actually,” she says, “I had three dollars and some change after I bought the ice cream and the lady asked if I wanted money back or did I want it on my card and I thought ‘just put it on my card.” She said, sounding like an experienced shopper. “And I found out that one of the two boys I have a crush on likes me, too! “Oh, and I made a great new friend!”
“Wow.” I say. “Sounds like a great day! What’s your new friend’s name? I ask, not ready to address the ice cream and crushes. Cadence shrugs her shoulders, opening the refrigerator door.
“How were your classes? Did you learn anything new?” I ask.
“Well,” she begins, grabbing a water bottle from the refrigerator and sitting down on a stool, “I learned that in middle school, you’re judged by the friends you have, what you wear and by your snacks.”
“Your snacks?” I say, as this is the one I have never heard about.
“Yeah, like you’re cool if you have cool snacks like pudding, mini coffee cakes, yodels, stuff like that. Could you buy that stuff instead of the healthy stuff? Granola and yogurt and the stuff I bring is lame.” She says, moving toward the television.
“No TV!" I tell her. "Let’s look to see what you have for homework first.” I nag, as she rolls her eyes and grabs her back pack.
Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, Science, Computer, Health, Spanish, Band and Chorus; big binder and folders organized, planner filled in. We seem off to a good start.
“I see you have spelling, reading, social studies and math homework.” I tell her, thinking she is in way over her head and trying to help her to prioritize.
“Where is your math book?”
“Uhh, it’s in my locker. I forgot it.” She says, tapping her pencil nervously.
We talk about strategies to help her remember what to pack at the fast and furious locker visit before buses.
“You’ll need to explain to your teacher tomorrow. What is your math teacher’s name?” I ask.
“Ummm… I don’t think she told us yet.” Cadence says, rolling her pencil back and forth.
Most definitely over her head.
She tackles the spelling homework and I urge her to move on to social studies.
“What are you studying in social studies?” I ask.
“Dead people.” She answers.
“Dead people?” I ask.
“Yeah. I guess they were all famous, but they’re all dead now.” She answers as I grab the syllabus, my eyes scanning the topics for the year: French and Indian War, American Civil War, Industrial Revolution…. she is right; all dead.
“What is that written on your hand?” I ask, noticing the green permanent marker.
“I ‘heart’ R.” She answers. “You know, that cute boy Riley from camp? He’s in my class. I put a note in his locker” She says, doodling on the “dead people” list. Riley is in over his head, I think.
It is the third day of school and we have nameless new friends and teachers, lame snacks, notes in Riley’s locker, but no books from Cadence’s.
At least she has all of the important things figured out!
The rest will follow...won't it?
Re-thinking home schooling.