Tales of Fourth Grade Enthusiasm

Wear faux fashion glasses to look more studious.


I do this every school year.

I get all sentimental and weepy that my kid is yet another year older, another year wiser, another year closer to high school graduation after which she’ll spread her wings and flee this nest we’ve lovingly built around her and her siblings.

But this year, things were a little different.

Miss C started school again this week. A fourth grader.

There was a breezy sort of confidence as she walked away from the house with her dad and siblings toward another academic year.

The confidence was radiating from her. Thus began a year which will surely be an adventure for her.

My fourth grade portrait from 1990.

At least, that’s how I remember my fourth grade year. It was a big one for me, the year in which I can distinctly trace the trajectory of my life taking shape.

It was the year I started my very first journal after reading The Diary of Anne Frank, which changed my life. It’s the year I also discovered Judy Blume and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and after that, it was all over: I never went anywhere without a book pressed to my face. Blubber. Bridge to Terebithia. Anne of Green Gables. The entire Laura Ingalls Wilder series. The Babysitters Club series from which I based several [unfortunate] fashion choices off the illustrated covers.

It was the year I started piano lessons, and the year I had to get prescription glasses for the first time. There may have also been some Doogie Howser and NKOTB infatuation going on, too.

It was also the year the Gulf War happened, and I watched those television military press conferences with my Dad as he pointed out the public affairs officers who were the “real” ones running the whole show.

Oh, yes: the seeds were planted then.

Martin took this photo of my Dad’s garage as they sorted through everything.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Martin went out to my parents’ house in Ohio while I was in Germany last month, where they emptied out my father’s garage. There were boxes of my childhood belongings, and while most were toys and clothes, they found a box of items from my fourth grade year.

Miss C took on the task of sorting through it. She discovered a notebook of mine I filled with writings and drawings – one of my first journals. She also discovered all of my old books, too, many in great condition despite being buried away for more than 20 years.

Lola wants to go to school SO BAD.
Just two more years, my dear! It will go by fast, I promise.

When I got home from Germany, she wanted me to teach her some of the drawing techniques I used in that notebook all those years ago. And she asked if she could borrow some of my books, too.

She also asked if she could have one of my old empty diaries, which was given to me as a birthday gift one year, but I never got around to writing in it. As Miss C is just a few pages away from filling up the journal I gave her at Christmas, she needs a new one.

Of course, I said she could have it. It is sort of surreal, my fourth-grade daughter connecting with fourth-grade Julie, relating to my writings and books from back in the day.

I am basking in her enthusiasm to share things with me.

I know it’s not always going to be this way.

(Photos from last year’s first school day and this year’s, both taken on our steps.)

So as she marched off to school, I smiled and waved, a little weepy, but mostly, I was just so excited for her.

Later, she called me at work to let me know that her first day did not disappoint. She likes her teacher already. There are several familiar faces in her class. She will be learning about colonial America and about Jamestown. She also got to pick a musical instrument to play this year. She picked the cello.

And she thinks she may really need glasses as some things were looking fuzzy on the board at school.

Ah, it’s going to be so much fun, this fourth grade adventure!