August 2019 480.632.7373 jensenlawaz.com
Small School Memories Growing Up in a Small Idaho Town
When I was growing up in Idaho, no age was as coveted as 14. Back when I was a kid, that’s how old you had to be in order to get your license, and as every teenager knows, a driver’s license is your ticket to freedom. But I was pretty young for my grade. So, while half of my friends were driving to school and toting our friends around, I was one of the last kids in my friend group to get my driver’s license. My birthday is in late summer, and when I started kindergarten, I just passed the cutoff age. I was tested to assess whether I could enter school early or if I should wait one more year, and I can still remember “studying” as a 4-year-old. My parents and I were so focused on my ABC’s and making sure I didn’t write “... w, x, y, N z.” Like most kids, I added the extra “N” before “Z,” since the song has you say, “and.” I went into the test that day determined to avoid adding a letter to the alphabet, but I never had the chance to shine. They never even asked me about the alphabet! Looking back, it wasn’t much of a test, but I still passed and was shuttled off to kindergarten just before I turned 5. I can still remember my first day of kindergarten. I was so nervous for that first day. I walked into Mrs. Christopherson’s classroom, clutching my backpack tight, and made my way to my cubby. After dropping off my stuff, Mrs. Christopherson
had the class break the ice with an air guitar competition. I think shredding the strings with fellow 5-year-olds was such a cool way to snap out of our nerves. (Not to brag, but I was awesome at air guitar.) Of course, no first day of school was ever complete without my mom’s coveted back-to- school pictures. We’d stand there in clothes my mom had sewn for us, with our new shoes and all our supplies, cheesing for the camera. My mom was very resourceful and saved our family a lot of money by sewing our clothes, but I was always so embarrassed that my clothes didn’t have a tag from a store. It was such a silly thing to be embarrassed about, but being a kid in a town of just 300 people can cause you to overdramatize everything. Our entire school fit into one building, and my graduating class was just 15 people. If I ever run into anyone from school, I enjoy hearing about what they have been up to all these years, since nearly all of us spent about 13 years of our childhood together. To this day, I’m still close with my core group of friends from school: Shad, Justin, and Don. (On a geeky side note, we nicknamed our group “The Committee.”) We don’t keep in touch as much as I wish we did, but whenever we link back up, it’s just like old times. I really enjoy seeing how our families and lives continue to grow each year.
This year, three out of my four kids will head off to school. I can still remember the anxiety we felt when my wife and I sent our eldest daughter to school for the first time. I raced home that day and asked my wife dozens of questions about how Olivia’s first day went and what she thought. Olivia handled it like a true champion, and now she’s starting her second year of junior high school. It will be bittersweet when the day comes that our fourth and youngest child heads off to school, but it’s such a joy to watch our kids grow.
Thankfully, we still have a few years before driver’s licenses become a priority.
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