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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The First Day of School

My two big boys head back to school tomorrow. I don't know about them, but I'm pretty excited! But just 3 years ago, when my now 7 year old started Kindy, it was quite a different story.

I was nervous. VERY much so. I had the same "first day butterflies" I recall having when I was a kid. The 7yr old was pretty excited. Not overtly. He wasn't jumping around saying, "Can we go now? Can we go now?" But I could tell he was curious and wanted to get there.

Not only was I nervous about how he would feel, but I also had concerns as to how I would get him there on time. My third son was only a month old, and my second was not even 3. But fortunately, I had my sister on hand to help out. She'd come to visit (from Perth) to meet her new nephew, and it was she who amused my now 5 yr old and held my now 3 yr old in her arms as I ran around making sure everything was perfect for the 7yr old's big day.

And she took photos. I can't tell you how happy I am to this day, that we have a lovely family shot of that special day. (And she did it all over again when the 5yr old had his first day of school.)

My sister also stayed with the youngest boys, so that Hubby and I could walk our 7yr old to school that day. On our arrival, we all gathered in the school's undercroft. It was noisy with excited (read "nervous") parents just like Hubby and I. Some kids were running around. Others held on tightly to their mother's hands. And some were crying. (Mind you, some of the tears were those of parents.)

At one point, I kneeled down in front of my son, placed my hands on either side of his shoulders and said, "Honey. Look at Mummy now and really, really listen." Dutifully, his big brown eyes looked in to mine. All wide-eyed and innocent. I felt a lump form at the back of my throat, and I blinked back tears as I said, "Remember today. It's a very, very big day for you. I want you to try and remember everything. Ok?" He nodded. "Ok," he replied. "I love you," I said, and took a deep breath to stop the tears that threatened to surface again.

A hush fell over the crowd as the first Kindy teacher stepped forward to read out her list of names. She asked that those called, come forward and line up in front of her. I held my breath.

She read out my son's name. The first Kindy child of 2007.

A smattering of applause and a cheer went up as my son, without so much as a hug or wave (we'd already said our goodbyes, as I had anticipated this), walked quickly to take his position. He sat down in front of his new teacher. My dear friend, Jen, her first son also starting Kindy on this day, turned around to me, and by then I could no longer hold my tears back. She smiled in sympathy, and said, "Oh stop!" as tears welled up in her eyes too.

I glanced at Hubby. He looked on proudly. Then I heard my son's teacher say, "Actually dear, I think you can stand up." Straight away, my son went to rise to his feet. But the heavy school bag, laden with new books, crayons and his morning tea made it difficult, and he struggled to get up. Everyone, including me, couldn't help but giggle at the cuteness of it. The 7yr old was oblivious. He was in the moment. And it's a moment I'll never forget.

When my second son started Kindy, just last year, I was a little less anxious. But it didn't stop the tears of pride rising to the surface again. It did make me think, however, about my first day of school.

Whilst my short term and medium term memory is a little dodgy (do you think, with my youngest being 3, I can still blame it on 'baby brain'?) I do, however, remember my first day of "big school".

I remember bugging Mum constantly at home that morning, asking repeatedly, "When is it going to be time to go?" I recall walking in to my classroom for the first time and meeting my first classmate - Catherine Rule - and sitting next to her at my wooden desk (which had a flip top lid and an ink well to boot)! Later, I remember sitting on the mat at the front of the classroom, and my teacher telling us about something (that part I can't remember - typical) and asking us a question. I immediately raised my hand, and my teacher looking very pleased, probably because someone was so eager on their first day. She said, "Yes! Jodie, isn't it? Do you have the answer?" I replied, "Can I go to the toilet, please?"

No, it's not quite what we imagine, is it? It's the really big issues our Kindy children are interested in. If you're a first time big school parent, some of the questions I think you can expect to be asked the first couple of weeks, as I was when my 7yr old and my 5yr old started Kindy, are: "Why do we have to go to school every day?" and "How come there aren't any toys there?" and, my personal favourite that my 7yr old asked in his first week, "How come I can't take my shoes off at school?"

Before you know it, the "smaller" issues of reading, writing and counting will become dinnertime conversation, rather than the remarks of disappointment at not being in the same House Colour as their favourite colour.

Deep breath. Let the fun begin and enjoy. School is in! (Thinking of you, Thea. x and Good Luck, Jen! x)

Until next time...


Thea Smith said...

That was beautiful!
Now I have butterflies....and tears!! I'm not even there yet!
Thanks, Jodie. xx

MegsyJ said...

A beautiful post, Jodie. I was right there with you at the first day of school. So much so, that I'm going to blog about it tonight! Too many memories to share in this little comment box!

Aussie-waffler said...

Well dang woman, I have been fine all morning and then I read your gorgeous post and got all teary. Talk about delayed reaction. That was a really lovely post :) x

Ami said...

Oh such a beautiful post Jodie. I'm all teary! Good luck with back to school tomorrow, and especially to the mum's of the first year kindy kids! xx

Michelle said...

Such heart felt memories. I get the shoes thing - I grew up going to a school where we didn't have to wear shoes!

jessica said...

I very well remember my daughter's first day. It was tough for her b/c her teacher was all business and not the lovey dovey she got from her pre school teachers. I had to do a lot of hugging those first few weeks to get her past that. Now, she is in first grade and she's doing great.

Sarah P said...

Oh what a beautiful post. I'm all sniffly now!