Growing up I commuted thirty minutes to my elementary school. I lived in upcountry Maui and I attended Lihikai Elementary School down in Kahului where my mother taught seventh grade. I loved school. I am pleased to say that we Lihikai Surfers still keep connected through social media. I have very fond memories of my school days in what was originally a Kindergarten through eighth grade campus.
Since my mother was a teacher, I had to hang around campus after school until she finished work. School got out at 2:05 PM and she would work until 3:15 PM before we headed off to do grocery shopping, do errands, or sit at the library while my mom had more meetings. We sometimes wouldn’t get home until 7 PM.
I’d usually sit in her class and do homework. When I was older I also had “work” after school. I was involved as Junior Police Officer and the Student Council. We had drama club practice and cheerleading practice. I kept myself busy. It was nice to have friends there on campus after school. Those were great childhood memories — and then I would watch them walk home.
I’d say all my friends lived within walking distance of the school. I was envious. They left campus together and played into the evening in each other’s yards. They have stories of the manapua truck or cruising Kaahumanu Mall together or going to the skating rink on weekends. It was a life that I only could hear about because I lived in a different, far, far away neighborhood. By the time I got home, there were chores and then dinner and that was all. Weekends were filled with hula, gymnastics, piano, dance, swimming, or whatever other lessons my mom wanted me to attend and church. All filled with friends, but isolated within the activity and location.
So when KidA calls me at work to say she wants to just ride the school bus to FriendK’s house to finish homework and then stay for dinner, I’m probably living vicariously through her when I approve. It means her chores won’t get done until the next day. She won’t be around the family table at dinner time. She’ll even be a little more flighty and obnoxious than usual because she was with a gaggle of seventh graders for more hours than needed. I still approve.
That is why they attend our local school and not the school where I work. So they have neighborhood friends. Friends who you play with until the sun goes down. Friends whose parents say, “Wanna stay for dinner?” and you do the same when there are more children than you own when dinner rolls around. Friends with who you build childhood memories. Those memories are wonderful!