FLASHBACK – FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL: PART 1
(See part 2 below)
“But I don’t KNOW anything!” I wailed to my mother. We were shopping for school supplies for my first day of school and this had been an ongoing complaint all summer-long. There was a new desperation to my voice as the long days of summer days grew shorter and September quickly approached. She sighed, a sure sign that her patience was wearing thin. “But that’s why you go to school – to learn things. Besides, you already know a lot of things,” she said as she turned over a purple pencil case to see the price tag. I saw her glance at me from the corner of her eye as she waited for me to answer.
I took a moment to picture myself in a classroom, raising the top of my desk to see the purple pencil case inside. It was full of bright marigold-coloured HB pencils with bubble-gum pink eraser tips. But I’d never use them, because … well, BECAUSE I COULDN’T WRITE. I imagined books neatly lined up on the inside of the desk. Books I’d never open because … well, BECAUSE I COULDN’T READ. And I imagined all the kids around me with hands eagerly raised, hoping the teacher would call on them to answer a question I hadn’t even heard because I was paralyzed with fear.
I knew my mother was hoping for a different answer than the one I’d given her all summer. Finally I looked her in the eye and without flinching, said, “No, I don’t. I don’t know anything.”
I went to school, of course, but I didn’t take to it right away. Like so many kids before me, though, I adjusted, made friends and learned to like it. Years later, my son faced the same day with a completely different outlook. Sometimes the acorn does fall far from the tree.
FAST FORWARD TO 1989 : FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL – PART 2:
My little man’s first day of kindergarten was finally here. The older kids had gone back to school the day before, and Erik had stared out the window wistfully as he watched them walk to the bus stop. Now it was his turn and he couldn’t wait. He was so different from me!
Today was the day he would ride the school bus with all the other kids. As we walked to the corner, he ran ahead of me shouting out to the other children, “Wait for me!” I watched him and thought he looked so handsome in his navy chinos, pin striped shirt, cute suspenders and brand new sneakers. His hair was slicked back with a touch of gel and his eyes sparkled with the excitement of this new adventure. Too much excitement.
When we got to the bus stop, Erik clambered up to stand on the wooden bench on the sidewalk. “Erik, get down please,” I said. “People sit on that bench and they don’t want to have sneaker marks on their clothes.” Just then he lost his footing and went tumbling to the cement sidewalk. At almost the same moment, the big yellow bus turned the corner and rumbled toward us. Erik was more startled than hurt but big, fat tears rolled down his cheeks. Quickly, I pulled a tissue from my pocket to wipe his cheeks and try to soothe him.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way! I didn’t want to watch him get on the bus for the first time with tears in his eyes. A lump formed in my throat and tears threatened to well up in my own eyes, but I forced them back. The bus pulled up, its door folded open and the kids started to get on. Erik climbed up the steps and turned back to look at me. My heart stopped. I was sure he wanted to get off and go back home with me. But then he smiled, waved excitedly and went to find a seat. His tears were already gone and forgotten, but as I walked home, mine left salty tracks on my cheeks.