Tuesday, September 13, 2011

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL REDUX

First off, thank you so much for all your help with the warning flag on my blog.  Since all of you have had no problem, I am pretty sure it is probably a browser incompatibility, especially since Djan could make it appear or not depending on the browser she used.    

Now I am going to post a rerun.  Ninety nine percent of you have never seen it for when I wrote it over two years ago, I only had 5 readers and two of those have left.

It will be a two part'er so I hope you will bear with me. I had been so busy trouble shooting that I hadn't time to write something new.  Judy, Robin and Carol from Nitwit have read this before so you are excused.

I would be curious to hear if your first day of school was memorable, scarred you or thrilled you.

 Thursday, May 21, 2009


FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL


Some things happen in your life that seem simple at the time but can drastically shape you as a person. They form how you think, how you approach problems in life, and what makes you the person you've become. Seldom is it one occurrence.

It takes a village to raise a child and it takes many events to form a person. These events are often remembered with a clarity as if it were yesterday while some lay buried in obscurity. Though well over a half a century has passed, how I handle tasks, what I place importance on, and what I think will earn approval, all were reinforced that first day of school.

I desperately wanted to go to school since I was old enough to want. My brothers disappeared daily into this thing called school. They had grand tales to tell at the end of the day. They could do wonderful things like making marks on paper that others understood. They could say words out loud as they deciphered the marks on the pages of a book. I wanted this skill, I wanted to learn. I wanted to be like them.

My parents tried to enter me in school when I was 5 but my birthday came too late in the year so I had to wait till I was six. I was heart broken and demanded "Why?" till my parents wanted to throttle me. I was offered kindergarten but I thought that was for babies and refused. Crayons and finger painting were not for me. I wanted the real stuff. That decision was not a good one as I was to learn. Finally I turned the magic six. If only time passed so slowly today.

I had my nice new vaccination scar, new shoes, new undies, and a new dress. I literally dragged my mother down the halls wanting to find my room. Mother knelt before me at the door to my room asking me if I were OK and said if I needed, she would wait for me in the hall. I saw all the desks, the black board,the huge woman who was my teacher and all I wanted was to find my desk and get busy. I had learning to do.

The teacher welcomed me and took me to my desk. It was wonderfully big and my feet did not touch the floor. My fingers traced the engraved initials on the desk top of the generations of children who had sat here before me. There was a very fat pencil, a square eraser and a piece of lined paper waiting for me. All around me children were crying, some out loud, others sniffling , all looking miserable. Not me, I was proud and ready to go. Outside the door, my Mother was doing my crying for me. Her baby was leaving the nest while "baby" just wanted to fly.

After calling the roll,( good thing I wasn't first called, for I didn't know to answer "Present") the teacher led us in singing the ABC's. This I knew and my little voice rang out. Then abruptly, with out explanation,the teacher said, "All right children, take up you pencils and paper I want you to copy your letters. When you are through and need more paper, raise your hand."

Thinking this was just too easy, I started making the lines, crosses, squiggles and circles on the paper like I had done at home. I worked furiously and excitedly. Soon my paper was full though the other kids were still slowly working away. Up went my hand. Not sure if I were a genius or an idiot, she came to my desk and took up my paper. Oops, idiot.

"These aren't letters." she said, " This is nothing but chicken scratch."

Even the kids who were still crying stopped long enough to laugh at that.

"Didn't you go to kindergarten?" she asked, knowing the answer.

"No ma'am." I squeaked.

"Well if you had you would have known what to do." My first lesson in "should-a-done."

She pointed to the top of the black board where a banner of the alphabet was displayed. The kindergarten kids all ready knew how to print, for me it was a daunting task . Guess there was more to kindergarten than crayons and finger painting.

"Copy all of those carefully, starting with A." she said.

We had just sang the ABC's so my light bulb moment told me,"So that is what an A looks like?" I sang in my head as I copied A-B-C but then I got confused. Where was the letter "lomenap"? Thought I'd save that question for at home. I had entertained the class enough for one day.

The teacher stood over me as I tried to reproduce what I saw. Satisfied with my attempts, she went back to her desk. I didn't stay in the lines very well but I did copy the banner fairly accurately. Knowing I was behind the others, I worked as quickly as I could. The page filled once more and again all around me, kids were still working.

The teacher was strolling up and down the isles looking to see if there were any more chicken scratchers lurking. She stood over my shoulder looking at my completed paper. She picked it up and I braced for what was coming. She placed a clean sheet in front of me and softly said,"Much better Patricia."

Funny how praise is soft while condemnation rings like a bell. Kind of like the retraction in the newspaper on page 13 for a goof on page one. Few of the former gigglers heard her, but I did. That was my first praise from an unfamiliar adult, and I loved it. "Chicken scratch" was forgotten, I was on my way to learning.

She had written our names on a piece of paper and told us to copy it till we could spell our names. PATRICIA seemed such a long name as I saw BOB beside me write his name. Anyway, at least now I was learning something.

I was cruising along with each project when the urge to pee (tee-tee as my family called it) was reared its ugly head.   I had all ready scoped out the room and saw no bathroom door. Not knowing how to tell a total stranger about such a private need, I tried to tough it out, but it was a battle a six year old couldn't win..........

20 comments :

  1. Excellent!

    Will Patricia learn to write? Will she learn how to ask permission to go to the BR? Tune in tomorrow for a wonderful conclusion...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Patti,

    What a wonderful story. As I was first reading it, I was reminded of the Ramona books. I wish that I could remember things as clearly as you. I do remember walking up and down a big hill to school by myself to kindergarten. It turned out to be half a block and barely a slope later on, but I was pretty short.

    Can't wait to read part 2, and glad your blog has been green flagged!

    Kathy M.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh my what do you think happened? Will Patricia think her name is Bob since it is so easy to spell? More importantly, will she make it to the toilet?

    BTW, regarding Jacob and baseball. Marlins is a possibility as they live in San Diego and you can surmise his favorite team.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I like your story, as I always do. I must confess though, that I cannot remember my first schoolday. We had to write down the numbers we knew on a slate with a slate-pencil.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a wonderfully told story ...its hard to be six.
    I cant really remember my first day at school ...I was two months short of five .... we didn't have kindergarden.I dont think I cried as I do remember wondering why everyone around me was. I was in that class til the summer hols so about 6 months ...learning the basics....you couldn't move up until you had completed the first reader and learnt the 2x table.
    I have two main memories of this class ....standing on a table and singing 'I'm a little teapot' ....and ...taking an artistic master piece in, of a penguin, and before the teacher could view it, a fellow student ripped it up.xx

    ReplyDelete
  6. Love your story Patti, waiting now for part 2! Hate to admit that I do not remember any "first" days at school. I do remember getting my name written on the board in 2nd grade because I was chewing gum- I was so mortified!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for commenting on my blog! You are a fantastic blog friend. But I don't want you to be confused by the Eagle Scout thing. My son earned his Eagle three years ago. It requires 21 badges and a huge service project. What the Dog Walker has accomplished by earning ALL the merit badges is only achieved by a handful of scouts...maybe a couple a year across the United States. We are so proud of him!
    Sandy

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey, I am back. David says the Marlins aren't in San Diego. I thought they were the fish my son caught. Sorry. Dianne

    ReplyDelete
  9. I just remember stuffed animals nestled in baskets under the enormous hall lights, cookies and milk, large square crayons and the fact that my young aunt walked me to school.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Super duper tale.....I'm waiting for part 2. What a sweet telling of a super important beginning.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I don't remember much about my first day of school. I know I was terribly shy and very anxious to do well.

    Waiting in anticipation for the rest of your first day adventure.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Loved this story! Beautifully written! Can't wait for Chapter 2.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Clint,
    Well thank you Clint but it will probably be Wednesday for part 2.

    Oregon gifts
    I am not familiar with Ramona Books but maybe I will check them out.
    Ah, you were one of those smart kindergarten kids. I was really short too.

    schmidleysscribblins
    Glad you cleared that up. He can still think Marlins, we will have an air conditioned stadium and we could really use some left handed pitching if he is so inclined.

    Reader Wil,
    Thanks Wil. I guess that slate was like a mini black board.
    I only rememeber mine because it was tramatic.

    Angie,
    Yikes, I hope you tweeked that kids ear a good one for destroying your masterpiece.

    Southwest Arkie,
    Thanks so much. Correction in the early grades really stays with you doesn't it?

    Mom of 12,
    That is even more impressive. You should be very proud. I enjoyed seeing you both on the telecast.

    Wanda,
    Ha, it was cookies and apple juice that almost make me a first grade drop out.

    Linda,
    Thanks so much Linda. We do tend to remember the tramatic.

    Sweet Virginia Breeze,
    Thanks. I wasn't shy when I went into the class but I learned to be a bit.

    Fishducky,
    Thank you so much and am glad you like it.
    Wednesday for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh Oh ... me thinks there's trouble ahead.
    A sweet story and beautifully told. I can't believe there was a choice to go to kindergarten or not. There was no way we could go to 1st grade unless we had kindergarten. Not that it ever did us any good. All I remember is making a walnut shell turtle with some kind of fruit for feet.
    Looking for part 2.
    Manzanita@Wannabuyaduck

    ReplyDelete
  15. What a wonderful story, Patt! You have such vivid memories. I can hardly wait to find out if you made it to the restroom or not! I went to a parochial school with 60 kids in each classroom and Irish nuns teaching. In true Irish tradition, older siblings were totally responsible for younger ones. When I was in the 4th grade and my brother was starting first grade, I let him know that he'd better not wet his pants or throw up in class or I'd kill him. (I would have been called down to clean it up. Never did do well with bodily fluids.) Fortunately for us both, he never did anything more heinous that clown around in class, earning me a summons to get a note from his teacher to our parents. I remember going to kindergarten the first time, climbing this big bank of steps and wondering if this was like going to college (someplace my father always said I would go). A few days before I was to start first grade, I got polio and didn't return to school full time until the second semester of third grade. My first day then was painful and self-conscious as I still had some residual paralysis and was very shy and afraid the kids would make fun of me -- and some did -- but some were truly splendid and are friends to this day.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love it. I can hardly wait to read the rest.

    ReplyDelete
  17. fishducky,
    Thank you. Hope you aren't disappointed.

    manzanita,
    Ha I wish it had been mandatory. Besides a neat turtle, you at least learned where the bathroom was.

    Dr. Kathy,
    Wow, that was some responsibility to put on a sibling. My brother would have killed me if he had to clean up my pee.
    I am so glad you found a splendid friend. What an ordeal you went through. Polio was such a fear in those days.

    Retired English Teacher,
    Thank you. I wondered how my teacher readers would respond.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I was well into this post before I realized you weren't you, now, visiting an elementary school classroom and having to pee!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Love it! I have no memories of my first day OF school... only those of trying to get to my classroom.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thank goodness Patti that horrible red warning thing did not appear so I could enjoy your first day at school.
    This is great and glad you shared it with us again.
    I envy you with your memory. I am sitting here trying to remember my first day. It must of been pretty bad and I have blocked it out.
    Love
    Maggie

    ReplyDelete