“School stinks!” How many times have you heard that from a kid with too much homework and not enough weekend? I’m sure every student has said it at some point, and I’m beginning to think the kids may be right, but not in the way you might be thinking and certainly not in the way they intend it.
This week, I attended a school band concert. The students sounded amazing, but what surprised me most were the aromas that wafted around the campus. For instance, as I walked to my car, the scent of the grass by the parking area reminded me of the playgrounds and fields at my old schools. Do you remember your schools’ fields when they were wet with dew? Do you re- member being out there in the morning sun doing jumping jacks, or playing dodge ball, or running around with your best friends? The late evening grass after the concert had a wet, dirtand-hay-like scent, and just a whiff took me back to gym class, where Mr. Kirkland was sitting on the damp ground, teaching us how to maintain our athletic health: “You wouldn’t put vinegar in a gasoline tank; don’t put junk in your bodies.” Teachers were always giving out good advice like that, and I still remember a lot of it. And I remember the smell of the makeshift baseball diamond on a hot summer day when the ground would turn to a carpet of cracked red mud. And I remember the smell of the honey suckle that blossomed each spring among the trees that lined our elementary school playground. Our playground was surrounded by deep woods: the same woods that backed up to my house, the same woods we explored, when we could. I remember a teacher spotting some of my friends near the wood’s edge and telling them to, “Break up that little Love-in.” The kids were just sitting on rocks and talking, but to an adult on the dying side of the hippie movement, it was an opportunity to say “Love-in” one last time. All these memories came back because I smelled wet grass? Yes.
Kids — your school years will fill you with so many memories, even a whiff of wet grass will bring them flooding back. Say “School stinks,” if you want. But one day these difficult years of study and maturation will turn sweeter than the finest perfumes.