As schools begin to resume their task of educating our youth, I vicariously relive through memories my own first day of classes. What a traumatic experience!
Mother had tried to prepare me for the arrival of that day. I had accompanied her and Daddy to the school for programs in which my older brother had performed. They had introduced me to his teacher, Mrs. Zachary, who would also be my first-grade teacher. (We had no kindergarten in those days.) I was actually excited about getting to go to school.
Until that day arrived.
As the school bus topped the hill at my grandfather's driveway and headed toward its next stop, the end of our driveway, I panicked and began crying and drawing back toward the house. Mother guided (more accurately, she pushed) me toward the bus stop. I cried harder and pulled her back toward the house. I suddenly didn't want to go to school after all!
The bus crunched to a stop amid the gravels that had escaped our driveway and were scattered onto the asphalt. The door opened, and there in the driver's seat sat my friend Johnny Johnson. During the previous year, when he stopped the bus to pick up my brother, he had let me climb aboard, too. He had lifted me over his lap and set me atop the heater below the driver-side window on his left. I rode there a short distance to where he turned the bus around at the Mynatt's driveway and returned, dropping me off at our house before continuing to the school. I liked Johnny and knew I had nothing to fear on the bus.
Yet, on this first day of school for me, something was awry, and I sensed it. I cried and refused to get onto the bus. Johnny waited patiently, even offering encouraging comments and enticements to get me aboard. I cried harder and louder and tugged insistently to get Mother to get us back to the house.
I'm not sure how long it took, but together they finally got me onto the bus. Once at school, however, I recovered and ceased my crying. Perhaps it was because I saw my cousin, Sammy McManus, in the same class.
The same scene was replayed, day after day. Get dressed for school, get my lunch box and milk money (two cents for a half pint, I seem to recall), wait for the bus to appear, and then balk and cry all the way to the bus stop and onto the bus. Then, the tears would stop, and everything was fine the rest of the day. That lasted for at least a week, maybe longer.
After that, however, I had no problem with going to school. I actually looked forward to it. Although to admit
any joy of learning was never considered wise among peers, I relished learning and still do.
I also enjoyed sharing what I had learned with others, especially my parents. Whenever I was reading a book (usually something historical), I would constantly interrupt myself to read aloud to one of them some interesting (to me) tidbit. Sometimes, Daddy would in exasperation order me to stop it. I guess I overdid the sharing.
I still enjoy learning and sharing what I've learned. Maybe that's one reason I write: I continue to learn and enjoy sharing the pleasures I've derived from my discoveries with anyone who will read.
But returning to the beginning of school, I hope my granddaughter, who started her first day of kindergarten yesterday, will find as much pleasure and enjoyment from learning as I did, without, of course, my first-week-of-school trauma. I think she will.
Arriving at school, she shyly and hesitantly lined up outside at the designated location for her kindergarten class. She immediately saw a friend and began a conversation with her. Then, when it was time for them to head into the building, she started toward the door but then turned and, realizing that the other students weren't following, motioned to them and called out, "Come on, you all!"
I think she'll be just fine. She's going to be a leader. In fact, I can just picture her being elected class president. But then I'm a little biased, of course!
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