Monday, August 30, 2010

First Day of School—and the Rest of Your Life

My first grandchild, Bradley, went off to Kindergarten on Monday—his first day of real school. A preschool veteran, Bradley was excited about this new experience, especially the part where he got to bring his brand new Superman backpack. His dad and mom escorted him into the classroom, cameras flashing, and I got to greet him when he came walking out at the end of the school day. He looked happy, proud, and excited about the whole experience.

I’m not sure he fully understood he’d be doing this nearly every day for the rest of his youthful life…

Bradley’s first day brought back memories of my first day. I remember being terrified when my mother left me at Kindergarten. Mom says I “cried a little.” No wonder. She had just abandoned me in a room full of strange kids and a woman I’d never seen before named Miss Hequembourg. I was certain she was never coming back and all the coloring and easel painting in the world didn’t relieve my fears of this new experience.

At least for the first few minutes.

Apparently I came bounding out of the classroom and told my mom, “That was fun!” after she’d spent the last couple of hours worrying about me. Then I asked her if she knew what a “lavatory” was.

After one day of school, I already thought I was smarter than she was.

My dad, according to my grandmother, really had a hard time on that first day of kindergarten. My grandmother had walked him to school, escorted him into the classroom, and returned home, thinking “Little Eddie” would be fine. But moments later my dad slipped out the classroom door, followed her home, and hid under the front porch until he saw the other kids coming home from school. He got away with this for nearly two weeks, until the principal called asking where “Little Eddie” was.

I’m sure I would have done the same thing if I’d had a porch to hide under.

My husband Tom says he doesn’t remember much about kindergarten. Just that there was something called “Nap Time.” He must have learned the alphabet and how to color, but all he remembers is that he had to take a nap.

He really nailed that skill.

When my first born went to school his first day, I remember hanging around the Vista Grande school yard for quite a while, not ready to cut the cord and leave my son. I arrived to pick him up a half an hour early, just to make sure he knew I hadn’t abandoned him, like my mother had me.

But he was smiling broadly, carrying some art work that I’m sure I displayed on the refrigerator until it disintegrated. Like his father, he doesn’t remember that day either, but I do. He liked his teacher, he’d made a new friend (Grady), and he’d taken the first step toward independence.

Of course, he was surprised to find out he had to go back to school the next day. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he’d be going for the rest of his youthful life.

I was afraid he might run home and hide under the porch.


Anonymous papershapersue said...

I love this story, Penny. Definitely one for Bradley's
baby book! Love, your favorite DIL

August 30, 2010 at 2:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since I have one about to embark on the next four years of her "youthful life" at a major university this post really hit home. Seems as though it was just yesterday that little girl in the kitty sweater and the striped tights hopped through those kindergarten doors. Thanks, Penny, for the reminder.

~Diana Greenwood

September 6, 2010 at 7:02 PM  
Blogger Penny Warner said...

I know the feeling, Diana. I think it's more traumatic when they go to college than kindergarten.

September 7, 2010 at 8:09 AM  

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