All in all you’re just another brick in the wall

Our unoffical school song. The chorus had been spray-painted on the side of the building for forever. They didn’t even bother to try and remove it. They knew it didn’t matter.

I grew up in Boston and went to school during forced busing. A brutal and ugly chapter in Boston’s history. Neighborhood schools were devastated and many of my friends either left the city or went to catholic school. I understand the rationale behind busing and I support it; I’m just sorry that I had to live through it.

I hated school. All school. Every school. But especially English. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a teenager. I had fun – a little too much at times! I had my dark moments, but for the most part I dated, and danced, and had great friends. They just weren’t associated with school. They were from the neighborhood. Jamaica Plain.

I went to school, like I did everything else, with my sister Tracey. We went to English High. It’s wind-swept plaza and broken escalators, its ten stories of disgusting lockers and bathrooms that were never open. Hate. I would wake-up every morning and wish, as my first thought for the day, that during the night the school had burned to the ground. It never happened. Never.

But school wasn’t the first hurdle most mornings. No. That was reserved for actually getting to school. We would get up and get ready knowing that a ginormous exercise in suck, courtesy of the MBTA, awaited. The trolleys. The lame, crappy trolleys that would be so crowded by the time they arrived at our stop that they just drove on by, the sign changed to “Express”.¬† After the first 6 or 7 fully-loaded trolley cars had passed, someone at Forest Hills had a semi-coherent thought and sent an empty one to pick up all the people left on the side of the road. So squeezed into a rundown old trolley that squealed its way down Huntington Ave, getting felt-up by creeps and freaks, we would still then make the couple of block walk to school.¬† Thankfully, homeroom was after second period and we were seldom marked tardy.

Not that it mattered. Education was secondary. Herding kids up and down 10 stories between every class change – making sure that fighting and drug-selling were minimized¬† – that was the goal. A warehouse. For kids. I’m sure some walked out with a decent education but I don’t know any. It certainly wasn’t me. I educated myself, later, after I graduated.

I give you that lovely backstory to contrast it to my experience as a parent.

I love school! Plymouth Schools are great. From Oak Street, a charming, turn-of-the-century 2 room school house that both kids were lucky to attend for kindergarten. To Cold Spring and everything they did for both kids but especially for all the special effort (a whole other story) that was showered on Emma. To PCIS and now to Plymouth North. The staff and the parents go above and beyond. Sure, I’ve run into a couple of people that don’t but they’re few and far between.

I love seeing the kids when they’re in school. Walking around, proud of their surroundings and their achievements. I’m thrilled with the people they are becoming. Most of that is from us of course but part is also from their community and their schools. We chose Plymouth rather randomly; it had homes we could afford, it was seaside, and it was on the South Shore. I’m glad we landed here. I (all of us really) have made some tremendous friends that continue to enrich our lives. Even if I don’t see them as often as I’d like!