03-23-19 – Paty Jager – All Feelings Are Universal

Monday, August 28, 2017

My Scary Day at School

by Courtney Pierce

My scariest school day―Registration. As a first-time Mom, the thought filled me with trepidation to launch my eleven-year-old stepdaughter on the right path at her new middle school. Even at the ripe age of fifty-eight, I was nervous, nearly as much as she was. We kind-a hung on to each other. The stack of paper handed to my husband and I was more than a little intimidating.

“Relax, Honey,” my husband of three months said. “You’ll be fine.”

I dug for a pen in my purse, not remembering my own parents ever registering me for school. I had
just shown up to an assigned home room, thrown to the wolves after an arduous, long walk up the hill. I didn’t qualify for the distance that warranted a bus ride, even in heavy snow.

An image of my home room teacher, Mrs. Whitman, flashed through my mind. Her orthopedic shoesone four inches higher than the other–were a constant source of entertainment. The woman’s scowl contradicted the peppy flowered print on her cotton dress. At the time, I remembered her resembling the upholstery on faded sun room furniture, although the ruler she’d smacked in her hand sided with the scowl. I would have to scheme to carry out my latest distraction: to glob Elmer’s glue on my hand, let it dry, and peel it off.

I shook myself back into the moment. My husband had been watching me for signs of flight.

“You okay?” he said.

I doodled swirls of a daisy on one of the registration papers. “Yeah . . .”  I raised my gaze to the wall. “You and I never had posters about bullying, cell phones, and tattling.”

He smiled. “Golden Rule covered it, don’t you think?”

“Pretty much.”

Together, we flipped through the pages. After filling out all the boxes about languages spoken in the home, our ethnicity, if we had court-ordered custody status, whether we lived on a reservation, or were migrant workers,  I shook my head. We had all kinds of kids at my school back in the sixtiesblack, white, handicapped, rich, poorit didn’t matter. We were just kids. Those less fortunate, though, were defended, embraced, and fiercely protected by the kids who could provide a leg up. The right thing to do, and without signing a form about it. What the heck was all this legalese in front of me?

I felt old. So old, in fact, that I waited to see if the registrar would refer to me as my stepdaughter’s grandmother. These days, grandparents raising their kid’s kids is quite common. When my stepdaughter comes into procreation status, I think I’ll glue her knees together. But I digress.

And what’s up with the $40 backpackon sale, mind you? Holy Shamoly! It had to have a compartment for a laptop, cell phone, charging cords, and water bottles, none of which I had in the day. Phone calls were for emergencies only. I hid from my stay-at-home Mom from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and wandered my way back to the house after school, dreaming and pretending to be all kinds of things. I’d stop to inspect a bug scooting over the surface of a puddle, pet the cats that were always hanging about outside, and coax the dogs to chase me. They were never on a leash. Gotta love small town livin’ when you’re a kid.

After scratching out a fat check for the laundry list of fees and an online lunch account, the three of us moved through the four stations of the school cross: PE, bus routes, policy handbook, and student photo I.D. I did look askance at the PE outfit, though. The shorts looked more like M.C. Hammer pants, with a soundtrack of Yo Yo, throw the ball here

On to the real education. When I perused the subjects of focus for sixth grade, I was pleased to see an emphasis on books and reading skills. My husband, however, zeroed-in on what was missing.

“Where’s History?” he said. “That’s one of the most important subjects.”

I tapped the paper. “I think History’s been taken down for maintenance.” I caught his eye and smirked. “It’s undergoing a rewrite and an upgrade.”

“She’s gonna have extra homework then, because I'm giving her History lessons at night.”

“That ought to go over like a lead balloon, but give it a go.”

After two hours, the trio of us trekked back to the car, exhausted and hungry. I didn’t feel like
cooking, and neither did my husband, so we put it to a democratic vote.

“Can we go to Taco Bell?” my stepdaughter said.

“Not a chance,” I said. “That food is crap.”

My husband laughed. “Let's talk about the real meaning of Democracy.”

I set my hand on my stepdaughter's head. “Here endith the lesson: he who pays for the meal gets to decide."

She thought for a moment. “Can I have a credit against my allowance? I'll pay for dinner.”

“Sorry, your FICO score doesn't allow us to extend credit.”

Funny, now that I think of it. I sound just like my mother.

Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer living in Milwaukie, Oregon, with her new family. She writes for baby boomers. By day, Courtney is an executive in the entertainment industry and uses her time in a theater seat to create stories that are filled with heart, humor and mystery. She has studied craft and storytelling at the Attic Institute and has completed the Hawthorne Fellows Program for writing and publishing. Active in the writing community, she is a board member of the Northwest Independent Writers Association and on the Advisory Council of the Independent Publishing Resource Center. She is a member of Willamette Writers Pacific Northwest Writers Association, and She Writes. The Executrix received the Library Journal Self-E recommendation seal. 

Check out all of Courtney's books at: and Both print and E-books are available through most major online retailers, including

The Dushane Sisters are back in Indigo LakeMore laughs, more tears...and more trouble. Protecting Mom's reputation might get the sisters killed―or give one of them the story she's been dying to live.

New York Times best-selling author Karen Karbo says, "Courtney Pierce spins a madcap tale of family grudges, sisterly love, unexpected romance, mysterious mobsters and dog love. Reading Indigo Lake is like drinking champagne with a chaser of Mountain Dew. Pure Delight."

Colorful characters come alive in Courtney's trilogy about the Dushane sisters. Beginning with The Executrixthree middle-age sisters find a manuscript for a murder mystery in their mother's safe after her death. Mom’s book gives them a whole new view of their mother and their future. Is it fiction . . . or truth? 

Get out the popcorn as the Dushane Sisters Trilogy comes to a scrumptious conclusion with Indigo Legacy. Due out in summer, 2017.


Marcia King-Gamble said...

Hilarious your account. Now I know I am ancient.

Courtney Brooks said...

We get to do it all over again tomorrow night...6th grade Open House with a Teacher and Principal Q&A. I'll need to hold back my hubby about the omission of History. And God knows what's in these kids' lockers these days!

Courtney Brooks said...

Apologies, too, for the ALL CAPS that got embedded. I didn't do that, Blogger did when it posted.

Judith Ashley said...

Certainly brings back memories both of my own school days as well as when my son was going to school and then my granddaughters. Very grateful those days are behind me. All those years of making sure the morning send-off message was a positive one. Not sure how much they appreciated them but I did and still do believe them hearing "I love you" as they left the house or car was a good start to their day.

Sarah Raplee said...

Enjoyed seeing this through your eyes, New Mom!

Maggie Lynch said...

I have to admit you made me laugh out loud this morning reading your account. Like you, my memory of attending school was that the rules were understood that everyone shares, plays well together, and supports each other in times of trouble. I suspect your step-daughter was equally anxious about what middle school would present to her.

I don't remember registration for high school being so bad, when my step-son joined us the first year of our marriage. But then I was probably still in awe I was a mom too. As to you being 58, I think it will make you an even better mother because you've lived some life and survived the ups and downs. You have a lot to share and I know she will very much appreciate (at least most of the time) having you in her corner as she navigates the slings and arrows of puberty physically and emotionally.

I'm betting your next book includes a middle-schooler. :)