I still remember my first roller coaster ride. I was at Joyland with my family for a day of rides, sun and funnel cakes. All of my cousins were visiting for the summer and they all seemed to be fearless when it came to the rides. I, however, was always cautious. I wanted to go with them but the nerves would have me backing out every time.
My Uncle Brad was a man who seemed to live with no fear. He was the youngest of all of my uncles and was the wild child. He seemed to pick up on my fear and told me he would sit next to me. He told me he would keep me safe and I believed him.
As we ascended up the old wooden roller coaster, he told me to shut my mouth so I wouldn’t swallow flies on the way down. I remember looking at him with wide eyes trying to decide if he was teasing me or not. I can still remember the nervous giggles that burst out of my chest as soon as I saw the laughter in his eyes.
He made me laugh when I wanted to freeze up.
As I get closer to the first day of school, those same nerves work themselves up in my body. The anticipation of what is to come has made this woman feel like a little girl going on her first roller coaster ride. All the fears of what could go wrong bubble up inside my chest. The concern that I might fall off the tracks is in the back of my mind. But, the excitement that we could dare ride the roller coaster and come out better on the other side keeps us in line every year.
You see, educators know all that could go wrong in a year. We also see all that could go right. The ride is full of ups and downs, barrel rolls, and curves that we don’t see coming…and yet, we get back on year after year. I think it’s because the thrill is worth it in the end.
I lost my uncle to cancer this past school year. I’m pretty proud to say that he saw that I grew up to be braver than that little girl in line for the roller coaster. I think he would love to know that I still remember that day and that he was Part 1 of a recurring theme of lessons that I still seem to need:
Principal of PreK-6th Grade