The Anxiety of the First Day of School

My kids started school this week.  Okay, so it was just preschool and they only go for ½ a day two days a week, but for me it was still this big milestone in their lives.

The twins didn’t seem to give the idea of going to school to school a second thought.  But then they have been going to some type of class (gym, art or music) by themselves for more than a year.  And they even went to camp for three hours once a week this summer.

But even so, I got to thinking about the idea of the first day of school.  I remember it being a big point of anxiety for me, but maybe that’s because I grew up a military brat who changed schools quite a bit.  For me, the first day of school each year often meant a new school with new people.  And as a child I was extraordinarily shy.

While I never remember separation anxiety – could be why my kids showed no signs of it – I do remember having butterflies in my stomach and dreading the thought of entering a school where everyone already had their friends established.

But I made it through it.  And apparently my kids did too.  They are lucky in that they got to share this experience with each other.

I remember my first day of school.  I didn’t go to preschool.  My first day was for kindergarten and I had to ride the bus – a really big deal when you are smaller (and younger) than all the other “more experienced” school kids.

I remember standing at the bus stop with my mom waiting for the bus to arrive.  She was telling me how to remember my bus stop so that I could get off in the afternoon.  My bus stop was at the corner of a baseball field.  I was to look for the backstop to know when to get off the bus.

I don’t remember much about that day at school, but I remember the bus ride home.  I sat diligently at the window looking for that backstop.  The idea of missing my bus stop scared me silly.

Then I saw it – the backstop.  I didn’t expect it so soon.  But I got up and got off the bus.  The bus pulled away just as I realized my mom wasn’t there.  Now what do I do.

I’m five.  I’m not allowed to cross a street by myself and here I am at the wrong bus stop.  Who do I go to for help?

While I’m internalizing all this information, the bus has gone on to my correct bus stop a block away.  My mom realized I wasn’t on the bus and realized (I don’t know if another parent or some kids told her) that the previous bus stop also had a baseball field.  And before I know it my mom was there to meet me.

The next day, the parents tied some kind of ribbon to the backstop at my bus stop and I never got off at the wrong bus stop again.

It amazes me that after all these years (really, it hasn’t been that many), that that bus stop tidbit is what I remember about my first day at school.

It wasn’t what outfit I wore or who I met or – God forbid – what I learned that day that stood out.  It was the bus ride.

I wonder what my kids will remember about their first day.  They didn’t ride a bus so that can’t be it.  But I’d love to know what they remember 20 or 30 years from now.

What do you remember from your first day of school?

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One Response to The Anxiety of the First Day of School

  1. Diane says:

    WOW that was interesting. I remember that day you started school, your first day. I will never forget it. I can still picture it in my mind and I can even see the pretty new dress you wore and your hair was all done up and you carried your school bag, but until I read this blog, I never knew your fears. Maybe in thirty years you will find out what your kids remember of their first day of school. But until then all you will know and remember, as I did, is the picture of them in your mind and the photos you have taken of their first day. All I can remember noticing on my first day of school as a child is what the school building smelled like. It’s a smell I dreaded every first day of school each year following. And I had to take a city bus to go home and they don’t pay much attention to school kids or bus signals at your bus stop, I was definitely on my own.
    Great blog
    Mom/Gramma

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