school days

Author: angiem, 09 04th, 2011

I still remember that early cool morning, the first day of the rest of my life. There I was, dressed in one of my ¬†two blue and white checkered school uniforms, ready to go before either of my parents were even awake, my white collar stiff, my royal blue apron not a wrinkle. Tante Marie, my mom’s aunt, and accomplice in all things exciting for a child, got me ready, giggling with as much anticipation as I had. When my mom awoke, the first thing she noticed was that I hadn’t washed the sleep from my eyes, nor brushed my teeth. Breakfast was a hurried matter, a necessity to ensure I wouldn’t starve before school let out at noon.

With my Tante running to keep up with me, I picked up my brown imitation-leather satchel and slung it across my shoulders, skipping across the cobblestones. I was thrilled at the prospect of opening it and showing off - to my yet unknown classmates - my carved pencil box with its lid etched with red poppies, that slid across the top. I loved my pencil box, and I loved the smell of the pencils I filled it with, pencils received from my uncles and grandmother in the States. I longed to sharpen them all and to scribble away in my composition book.

As the days of summer ebbed away and autumn came with its wind and rain, and soon after winter with its deep, cold snow, I learned my math and practiced my reading and writing far into the evening hours. More than anything, I feared to be called to the front of the class and not know my lesson. Humiliation came in the form of a ruler rapped across an open palm, or across the fingertips. A reminder for the rest of the classmates of what awaited each and every one.

Maybe I was really smart, but most probably my mother kept the teacher well supplied with cigarettes and bubble gum, because I was rarely called to recite any lesson or perform any math equation. And because I didn’t have to prove my knowledge, neither was I disciplined. Still, the knots in my stomach were ever present, even when it became apparent that I was the teacher’s pet.

I think of all this, on the eve of another school year, the first for my daughter. She can’t wait for it to start. She has been counting down the days, morning and night. And I am so happy that she can go on growing in her self-confidence, in her love of learning. For a child there is nothing worse that the expectation of failure. Be it through a parent, a teacher, oneself.

And so in closing, I want to wish a happy and successful school year to all the children. Oh, and for the parents and the teachers, patience and wisdom, cause God knows, we’ll need it.


21 Responses to “school days”

  1. Lili Says:

    Ca de obicei, minunata descrierea ta. Mi-am aminitit si eu de zilele de scoala. Iti multumesc :). Succes fetitei tale!

  2. Victoria Says:

    I think I am more nervous / emotional than my children when they begin and new school year/class/school. Both mine kiddos have moved schools this time, just for a few months before we move to the US. They are excited and thrilled to meed new friends and be in a new ‘English’ school environment rather than Dutch school. No uniforms, which I kind of miss. I remember the too large blazers, stiff shirts, ties (that ended up either too think or too fat depending on the fashion)! Wishing your daughter a wonderful time at school.

  3. Mary Moon Says:

    Isn’t it amazing how strongly those first-days come back to us in memory? What we wore, how we felt, what our pencils smelled like, those knots in our stomachs?
    A think this is universally true.

  4. Elisabeth Stewart Says:

    Still, after all these years, it’s September that feels like the beginning of a new year - with the promise of new adventures - rather than January.

    (yes, i am back…)

  5. Jena Says:

    That pic of your son is so darn sweet!!
    I remember my first day of school. My neighbor Linda was a year ahead of me and she tortured me all summer long that my kindergarten teacher would be a man. I cried because I wanted a woman teacher. What a big surprise when I went to school and saw that my teacher was female and young and pretty!!

  6. Ava Says:

    Missed you!!! I checked every week just so you know!! Did you at least have fun while gone from here?

    My first day of school is hazy. I have to look at old pictures to remember what I wore. I do remember that I wore my hair in pigtails and that I had pink L. A. Gear sneakers. My teacher was young and with an extremely fat belly and she waddled when she walked. Around Christmas she had a baby: she had been pregnant and I didn’t even know the difference!

  7. Char Says:

    Angie, what a memory you have! So enchanting! But I suppose that’s what makes you the great writer that you are. Keep on writing, and often!

  8. Lori Says:

    My daughter also started kindergarten and it’s been such an emotional time. I don’t remember much my own first days of school. I did hate those polyester uniforms, though, while I loved the cotton, embroidered, white collars, as stiff as they were. I remember that while the uniforms were pretty much standard, the white collars were different on everyone, and I enjoyed being a bit different. Good luck with school!

  9. Ruth Says:

    Wishing both of them success on their first day of school and for the new school year. This is a beautiful post as always. I don’t remember my very first day to be honest, but I recall bits and pieces of other days during that first year.

  10. krista Says:

    oh, the days of rapped knuckles and buttering up teachers with cigarettes. i used to love school. so much. elementary school was my absolute favorite. (probably because once puberty hits, the fun of school wanes.) i remember picking out my outfit, prepping my backpack…so excited. i hope your lovely little girl has an amazing first day. xo

  11. jane Says:

    I still consider a year from september to september. sara is starting university- just want to crawl under the covers with a bottle of tinto… ;)
    happy new year angie!

  12. Francesca Says:

    I too remember that first day, and my black apron - perhaps that’s why I never ever wear an apron when cooking now! Hope your daughter had a good first day - happy new school year!

  13. Elizabeth Says:

    Lovely post — I, too, remember the first day of school. For me, it was unbridled excitement as I loved school — the new books, the smells, all of it.

  14. Susan Deborah Says:

    In India the academic year is from June to June. Reading this post, I longed to be that girl in pinafore, whose life was all about pencils, scales and lunch-break sausages.

    Hope you’ve been well, Angie. Been a long time.

    Joy always,

  15. Kelleyn Says:

    I am so glad that your daughter can go to school without the fear of being wrapped across the palm. Did you go to Catholic school? Hope all goes well.

  16. Susan Tiner Says:

    What a lovely memory of your first day of school! It seems so harsh though, living with fear of humiliation as a child.

    It’s obvious you are brilliant Angie, your Mom needn’t have supplied the teacher with cigarettes and chewing gum!

  17. Jessica Nelson Says:

    What a cool memory, though I’m not fond of that kind of discipline. *shudder* And I do believe in corporal punishment but not necessarily for those things. Yikes.
    Thanks for the blessing! I need it for my son, for whom it takes 45 minutes to write 10 sentences. lol Stubborn boy.

  18. Laura M Says:

    Angie, what a vivid description! I also remember being just as excited as you were that first day. For me it ended up in great “disappointment”… I was unhappy about being placed towards the back of the classroom since I was the tallest girl in the class.
    Thanks for your wishes and good luck to both T and B.

  19. Christie Says:

    Beautifully written…so glad that our children do not receive the same discipline now-a-days.
    Here’s to a brilliant first year for your daughter.

  20. bunny Says:

    You write so beautifully and you have brought back so many school day memories for me. My boys started school and now my house is so quiet…Its great to stop by and visit you. Have a wonderful weekend sweet Angie

  21. Susu Paris Chic Says:

    I always had mixed emotions about starting school. I loved to learn, but wanted to be free to do art and dance… not to be tied down to a chair!

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