Ah yes, school has started. For some it is the first day they have been away from their parents for any length of time. For others, wellsir, it is an experience in a wonderful new place with lots and lots of different things and this will be an adventure. It is doubtful you remember your actual first day of school so I challenge you to think back all those zillion years and come up with THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL. ..... Now, tell me about it. My bet is one out of, ohhh, maybe five or six can actually remember the first day. Almost everyone can remember the first grade, however, but that one day was so emotionally charged it has been buried. Now I am going to tell you my very first day which will help explain an incident further along.
I started school just before my seventh birthday. My mother took me to enroll and I really didn’t know what was going on. However, I did have two brothers and one sister who had gone to school so I knew I would have to stay at school. The Principal was also the first grade teacher so she had me sit for a minute as she had to do something. What she did next was, shall we say, upsetting to a small boy. Let me insert that the reason I started school late was I had been completely paralyzed for a year or two. I could barely walk and had a very bad limp as one leg was more affected than the other. So Mrs. Kirk had a duty to perform and she did what she had told the teachers to be ready for when it happened.
Mrs. Kirk reached up and started ringing the fire alarm bell by pulling about as hard as she could. I was sitting directly under the bell. Wellsir, for about one-one hundredth of a second. I was out the office door, then the school door before anyone could respond. To this day, a few years later, I can still remember the fright and the flight. People were yelling at me to stop but there was no way that was going to happen. As I said, I had a terrible limp so it wasn’t really running, it was more of a lope but I still out ran them for about 50 feet. Nosir, I did not want to go back into that school, nosir! But things got wonderfully better until I hit high school geometry.
Now, that was a traumatic start of school. Most children do not have that experience but still, as a four year old what experiences have they had. Almost every four year old who is now starting school has never been with anyone they didn’t know. Either Mom and/or Dad, Grandma/Grandpa or maybe a baby sitter. Suddenly they are thrust into a room with this large person who expects them to sit still, be quite and share stuff. “SHARE STUFF? I have never had to do that before. Sit still? Only when a big person turns on their growly voice. Sit still? How can I sit still when there are all these other strangers here? I wanna go home!”
One day during one of my principal jobs, I heard an angry voice down the hall. An aide had a three year old trapped in the corner of the main hall and was talking to her in a very angry voice. Three years old! The tiny girl was crying and didn’t want to go with the aide. I interrupted and the aide told me that the girl was “just doing that. She cries every day.” It cannot be explained why I did not explode all over her but I motioned the aide back and talked grandpa talk to this scared little person. The aide wanted to interrupt but I “looked” at her and my reputation as a boss seemed to pay off. Three years old and was expected to abandon everything she knew to go with this scary person who talked angry to her. I cannot change the world but this is one thing I would change.
Back in the dark ages when I was in elementary school we could bring a sibling to school on the last day of classes. That is a wonderful idea as they get to sit with “big brother/sister” and enjoy being the attention getter. That is a great way to implant a good feeling about school. We have become too modern for that old fashion activity now. Parents and adults also seem to think that if a four year old goes to school, they are grown up enough to function without definite parameters. Not so! They are four years old, not forty.