“I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.”

On my way to an early morning meeting, I saw mothers on the corners waiting with their kids for the elementary school bus. I was reminded of my first days of school, especially grammar school.

There were only eight first days of grammar school, a small number, but those eight days had so many different feelings attached. I remember regret for the end of summer, for the end of days filled with fun and adventure, but I also remember excitement, getting to wear new clothes and new shoes and finally getting to use my new schoolbag with the pencil box and crayons tucked inside. Walking to school, I’d carry my lunchbox with one hand, and it would sway back and forth as I walked. Getting closer to school meant getting nervous. I always wondered which teacher I’d get. There was always a good one and a bad one. I remember running into the school yard waving and shouting at my school friends, and I remember the bell. When it rang, we formed our two by two lines  and we walked into the school one grade at a time. The nuns walked with us. That part never changed year to year.

I had forty seven total first days of school. I remember fear, nerves and excitement the first few days of my freshman year in college, and I remember being really nervous, butterflies in my stomach nervous, my very first days of teaching ever, both here and in Ghana. After that, first days were nothing extraordinary though I did wear new shoes and a new outfit. Some traditions were worth continuing.

This is the seventh school year without me. I didn’t have to buy new shoes or new clothes, and I didn’t have to set my alarm for 5:15. It’s still summer for me and it will continue to be summer no matter how cold it gets.

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12 Comments on ““I’m not going to buy my kids an encyclopedia. Let them walk to school like I did.””

  1. olof1 Says:

    I do remember my very first school day. I walked all the way with my mother looking at all the other kids going there too. My first schoolbag looked like a green suitcase but could also be used as a back pack. I think that´s why I always liked backpacks 🙂

    I also remember my first day in Gymnasiet, our Highschool. It was the first time I had to change most of my class mates. We were only three from my old school in that class. I was a bit nervous since I came from the poor neighbourhood and most of the others were upper class. I found out really fast that they were human too 🙂 🙂

    You have to visit my blog today and follow the link to National Geographic and vote for my photo!

    Have a great day now!
    Sorry about not commenting here lately, I wasn´t in the mood after having to say good bye to my old Erna.

    • katry Says:

      I’m so sorry about old Erna. I know the loss of good friends who just happen to be dogs. I can’t get my Boxers to stay around any older than 8 yet here I am with another Boxer who’s halfway there.

      The picture was beautiful, especially the lighting. You got my vote!

  2. Zoey & Me Says:

    I voted too. Christer should hand out voting stamps for us to wear on our shirts. I remember a first day of school at St Matthews but draw mostly a blank after the Mother Superior walked me to my classroom. Always unprepared to tell the classmates where you came from. I hated that. But it’s all I can remember so I must have flubbed it and my brain is telling me “don’t go open that box”. I shall listen this time. But school was what everybody did, not what kids wanted, but it was forced on them in some one’s mind’s eye that all kids brains are equal. They aren’t. I think that is why most educational systems are failures. Look at how well our Harvard graduates on Wall Street are doing? Boy should they thank a teacher or the director of all those gangster movies?

  3. Caryn Says:

    A brand new metal flip-top tin of Crayola crayons with 8 brand new crayons inside. The points all gleaming and sharp, the paper wrappers untorn, the inside of the box clean and unmarked by crayon bits and streaks. Contemplating that box and thinking about all the fun I was going to have. That was grammar school first day for 6 years. After that we didn’t get crayons in tins anymore. First day of school was all business and hardly any fun at all.

    • katry Says:

      I loved my pencil box the best. I remember opening it more times than I can remember and picking up every piece. It was one of the reasons I could barely wait for school. Finally I’d get to use my pencil box.

      • Rick OzTown Says:

        Well, then, Kat…you’d like my ham radio and computer room these days. I buy the $1 plastic pencil boxes (larger than I recall from my early-50s days and soft plastic instead of hard plastic available then) and use them to hold MP3 players, small frequency counters, sets of cables for various devices, GPS receivers with mounting parts, etc.

        Modern electronics have so many small parts and wires and are so small themselves, they can easily get lost in a room full of electrical and digital and radio wonders.

        I think I mentioned that last month I’d been a ham radio licensee for 50 years. You get savvy about a lot of things in that time. But remaining neat and keeping the clutter down are two I haven’t yet mastered!

  4. katry Says:

    I remember my pencil boxes were hard cardboard when I was really young, but regardless, I love the idea of using them for storage. I have bits and pieces all over my house, and I never thought of using something like a pencil box.

    I have to admit I am not so great keeping the clutter down either. I collect and collect and nothing ever gets tossed. I think neat little boxes are the best solution ever. That way you look organized and neat.

  5. J.M. Heinrichs Says:

    “… forty seven total first days of school …” but finally, Graduation was a new beginning.


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