From Nontraditional to New Traditional pretty please

Commentary Opinion

As I am writing my first ‘official’ staff column in several years, tornado warning sirens are going off.

Please tell me that’s not a bad omen.

But a deadline is a deadline, so here I sit.

Also, as much as I want to sprint across town to be sure my daughter is okay at her daycare, perhaps it’s a good thing I’m in this nice big building and not in a little car.

Tornados have fun playing with little cars and the last one was spotted 15 miles north of Atchison.

 “They’re in a safe spot,” Miss Marlen over at LaPetite Academy assures me.

So I think, and I write.

For the last two years I’ve been labeled a ‘nontrad’ student. You know us, we’re the ones who likely commute into campus after getting kids off to school.

If we ever lived in the dorms it was years ago. Some of us are married, some aren’t. Some are parents, some
aren’t. We aren’t the standard university student.

One thing I do notice though is there are more of ‘us’ now than there was the first time I went through
school and graduated with a B.S. in Communications from Northwest Missouri.

Now I’m back in school to get my teaching credentials. Little did I know I would need to learn a completely
new set of lessons, not just in the classroom but out of the classroom as well.

There are new slang words, new societal rules, new music, new pop culture.

Things have changed a lot, sure. And I propose one more change. This one is a new vocabulary word. I propose we change nontraditional, to new traditional.

Sirens are blaring outside again. The already overcast sky is getting darker and it reminds me of prehurricane time in coastal Louisiana.

There is always an eerie silence just before the storm hits, then once the eye of the storm is over you.

It looks like the eye of the storm out there. The trees are barely moving but there is a sense of restrained
energy in the air.

The idea that, when you aren’t looking, something will sneak up on you and yell BOO.

Where was I, ah yes, new traditional.

Everyone’s in class nowadays.

There are people who take classes via correspondence, via video, via the Internet.

It’s becoming fashionable to be a student.

So while nontrads were once a minority. I wonder if we aren’t more of a majority than we think.

And there’s Officer Friendly at the door to tell me we’re under a tornado warning and shouldn’t I get
downstairs with the others and away from the window? I tell him I’ll be along shortly.

There are days I feel old.

Tutoring some English students last semester there were a range of ages and life experiences in this small
room. I learned about their lives and their interests and I felt old.

I wonder if it’s the mom in me. Once I had Bridget, it seems, it’s hard to relate to you ‘traditional’ sorts
anymore. Life is more than what the plans are for the evening and who dates whom.

But the one or two I had that only wanted to party…I wanted to shake them. YOU DON’T WANT TO BE
DOING THIS WHEN YOU’RE 30. STRAIGHTEN UP!

He’s switched schools because he couldn’t make it here. I miss the kid. Part of me wishes his parents
wouldn’t protect him so much. It’s impossible for him to learn if someone’s always ready to catch him before
he falls.

But then I realize that I’d do the same for Bridget. I just hope she has more sense at this age.

I’m wondering if I don’t need to be hiding under my desk at this point. The wind has picked up sharply and
the sirens are blasting.

If Poppelwell blows away I know I’m in trouble.

Admittedly, part of me wants to do more ‘traditional’ things since I’ve been back.

I’ve been inducted in a couple of honorary fraternities, but I’ve played around with the idea of rushing
for a sorority.

It’s hard when I’d need to bring Bridget to rush activities though. Though with some sororities having
members who are pregnant I’m wondering if they aren’t ready to have someone old enough to be their…
big sister….as a member as well.

I’ve got a good enough GPA I suppose. I could add that to the sorority stats. But admittedly, if I were in
one of those 60s Greek films I’d already have a rush name – sister buys the beer.

OK, maybe Greek life isn’t for me. Let’s see what else is out there.

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