School started this week around here. On the first day of class, my great nephew Jordan stopped by on his way for a photo op. With both apprehension and excitement, he squirmed as I tried to shoot a picture of him sitting on our front doorsteps. The …
School started this week around here. On the first day of class, my great nephew Jordan stopped by on his way for a photo op. With both apprehension and excitement, he squirmed as I tried to shoot a picture of him sitting on our front doorsteps. The moment triggered a d j vu moment for me.
I struggled with the thought of starting to school. I’d been a free-range kid ever since I could walk without an adult holding me up by the back of my shirt. The thought of sitting down for HOURS was hard for me to wrap my young mind around. I’d have to ask the teacher to go to the bathroom. No more hiding behind a tree for me. Taking my T-shirt off on hot days and tying it around my head like a bandanna was probably out of the question too. Strike one.
I did like the looks of my new Roy Rogers lunchbox, and the fat kindergarten pencil. It was like a cigar with lead. The new shirts and blue jeans were scratchy. After wearing cutoff shorts and T-shirts all summer, the new duds were an issue. I was also not a fan of the new shoes. I hadn’t worn shoes since April, and the new ones made my feet feel like they were in prison. It was hard for me to believe I couldn’t go barefoot to school. Strike two.
On the first day of school, all the community kids flocked to the front of our house. It was a wide place in the narrow road and a good place for a bus stop. When the yellow beast lumbered into view about a half-mile away, the kids standing there sang in unison BUUUUUUSSSSSSSSS. It was like a one-word chant. I came to understand that this was how the kids at the bus stop let the kids who were running late know the bus was coming. Time to put down those biscuits and grab the lunch kit.
I wasn’t sure what to expect on that first day. Our teacher was a stout looking woman. “Morning class, my name is Miss Carter.” She then turned to the blackboard and squawked her name across the top with chalk.
I now have fond memories of school. The only snafu of that first year was when I’d eaten an apple and wadded the core in a piece of writing paper. I put it in my desk and planned to toss it in the garbage can on the way out that evening. I forgot. That was on a Friday. On Monday, my desk was cloudy with gnats trying to get at that piece of leftover apple. Miss Carter discovered the apple and held it high in front of the class. She clicked her tongue on the roof of her mouth and said, “We should always clean our desks each day when we leave class.” That was a lesson I never forgot. After that, doctors could have done surgery on my desk.
I know school has changed over the years, but that first day still causes anxiety in young parents as well as their children. That’s understandable because this is a “life event.” Parents should know that eating a little paste usually doesn’t harm their child. And if a kid happens to be reading this column ALWAYS clean out your desk at the end of the day.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book, “Life Goes On,” is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.