Saturday, September 6, 2008

Weekend 3-Way: back to school

So this week, the Tuesday after Labor day, marked the first day of the new school year for most kids. The day that they all get to pack up their new school supplies, put on their new clothes, and meet their new teachers.

I always looked forward to the first day of school. I was excited to see school friends that I hadn’t seen over the summer, and to finally be a second grader, or third grader, or fourth grader, etc.

So for this weekend's 3-way, I want to know what's your most memorable back-to-school moment?

I'm actually going to cheat a bit here, because this Tuesday, after I kissed my second grader goodbye and left her in her new classroom, I ran into a friend that I had not seen since the end of the last school year (some things never change). We started chatting about kids, friends, jobs, etc. All the while the classrooms on the blacktop were filing out, marching to classrooms all across the campus. Less and less children remained.

To our right was a wee little girl. A tow head with severe bangs, a neon lime dress, and a huge pink backpack--a rolling backpack with the handle extended that was large enough for her to lean full against. She looked perfectly calm and composed, even as fewer and fewer children remained.

Was she a little sister not yet enrolled, just waiting for her mom to return?

We continued to talk, she remained.

Could she be a kindergartner all by herself? With no mom or dad to lead her to her classroom the first day of school?

I went to her just as her eyes were starting to pool over; she was so brave, but finally at her breaking point. She had taken the bus to school, this very first day of school, all by herself. This tiny thing with her oversized backpack all alone. Ach. It made my heart ache.

I felt all of her fear, anxiety, helplessness. She did not know what to do, so just stood perfectly still.

I put out my hand to her and she grabbed on tight. Luckily she had information about her bus and classroom in the pocket of her backpack. K3. I just needed to get her to K3. "Yes, that's right, K3!" She said joyously. It's the farthest kindergarten room from the blacktop, but as soon as she saw it, she dropped my hand and started rolling that giant backpack as fast as she could.

"Goodbye," I called out. But she was gone.


Well, if Beth , the one with the idea gets to creatively interpret her own instructions, so do I. Mostly because I have a severe case of CRS, which often lapses into full blown CRAFT.

So, back to school memories. I've been lopsided in writing way more about my boy, thank goodness for Aunt Ellie and her Mistah's plethora of stories and photos of my girl!

My boy's first day of Kindergarten was huge. He was my first, and had spent his preschool years in my very own workplace so other than family home daycare when he was an infant and toddler, I had never had to send him off to the big house. I had chosen his Kindergarten class after visiting aproximately 487 options. I loved this school, this teacher (Hi, Schwabbie!). But that first day was brutal. After getting there and taking the obligatory outside-of-school photos
in the bus loading zone and then being escorted back to our car by the po-lice, we went inside.

We parents, so many of whom have since become my sistahs, were not sure exactly what to do. The kids were all fired up and enthusiastic, I don't remember any tears (from the kids, anyway). The teacher called them all over to the carpet and sang a good morning song. She pointed out many things around the room:

See the book corner? That's where you can relax and read.
See the easel? That's where you can paint.
See the puzzles? You can do them on the carpet
See the playground? That's where we'll play for recess

The kids and parents alike breathed audible sighs of relief as the kids saw that this was nothing new here, this was familiar territory, everything was going to be okay.

Then the teacher said:

See your mommies and daddies all around us? Now turn around and wave goodbye!


Okay. Act calm. Be a model of courage and cheer for your boy. Smile! Stop blubbering. Go. It will be okay.

And it was.

After that first day he told me he felt like it, but he did not cry.


In October 1969 our family moved home after living in Seoul, Korea for 2 years. Well, Dad was there for 2 years – the rest of us were there with him for a year-and-a-half. That, clearly, is a story for another day.

I’d started first grade in Korea. When we got back I was beginning what would become an 8-year stint at St. Thomas the Apostle school (no, not St. Thomas Aquinas) . . . a month late. Treachery, for a poor little first-grader, if you ask me.

Mom and Dad had gotten the specs for uniforms for us – Uniform jumper? Check. White blouse? Check. Knee socks? Check. Brown tie shoes? Check. Woolen navy beret? Check.

I walked into the classroom in my uniform and knees socks and beret – terrified out of my mind – in front of a vast sea of 30 other kids in their uniforms and knees socks…. and no berets. A certain young girl named Denise was in that sea of judging eyes that day. She’s still my friend, almost, gulp, 40 years later, despite her continued glee at bringing up the fact that I was the only geek any kid in school had ever seen wearing a funny little hat, the standard-issue, St. Thomas the Apostle, dunce cap beret.


NucMEd is Hot said...

Poor little girl!!! I took my kinder and hung out. I'm sure there was nothing else her parents could do.

You all suffer. We went back three weeks ago by the grace of God, I was about to loose it!

steenky bee said...

Beth: Oh, poor little girl. This memory will no doubt be one of her best back to school memories. You made it possible.

Jacquie: Aw..your boy, being so brave! That would have melted my heart.

Ellie: The beret made you a friend for life. What a cute story about friendship.

Anonymous said...

Who sends their kid to school all by herself on her very first day? (well, except for MY parents AND I couldn't speak a word of English --you wanna talk trauma??) Er, nevermind. It's a good thing someone was there to help the poor kid out. Sheesh

denisey said...

Hey girlfriend, you looked smokin in your jaunty beret (I pronounce it with the "t"). Love you! Denise