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School Daze (A Flashback Column)

February 6, 2018


       Our youngest child started kindergarten this year.  I know from experience that each child is unique in his/her own way.  I know this.  And each child is going to view the first day of school in a different light.  But still.


         I wasn’t prepared for the events of that day nor for the face of that bitterly disappointed and disillusioned little person.  Not having been allowed past the classroom door to see what actually transpired, I can only relay the information as it was told to me.


         She had looked forward to following her siblings into the world of academia since she was two years old.  Three years must have seemed like an eternity to her, but finally the day arrived.  Dressed up in her favorite outfit, her curly blonde hair sporting a colorful bow, she marched bravely and confidently out into the world without even so much as a backwards glance.  This was the child who left the house; what returned was a different creature altogether.


         She came home, jaunty bow precariously askew; her dress, socks, and spirit were sagging, dirty and torn.


         I guess she had watched too much “Beverly Hills 90210” and “DeGrassi” with her older sister.  Apparently, she had even envisioned herself utilizing makeup on the first day of school (this explains the specter that shot past me, away from my vanity set).  She had not gotten away with the makeup, but I suppose she still must have pictured herself, her inner self, as being about 16 years old.


         That’s what made her experience so mortifying.


         The first thing they did, she told me, was hang a cardboard sign around her neck, proclaiming her name and homeroom affiliation.  Again, too much television, because she asked them (very sarcastically, I’m sure), which way she should stand for the camera.  Things were not going well, and they only went downhill from there.


         Prior to lunch, the class had taken a short trip to the cafeteria, presumably to acquaint the children with the procedure.


         “Like, I wouldn’t know how to place my order and carry my own tray,” she told me, bitterly, in her very best southern California accent (like I said, too much “Beverly Hills 90210”).


         She had adamantly refused to lie down on her mat at naptime. 


         “On the floor, like a dog or something,” she told me, flinging out her words in a rage.


         I couldn’t really blame her.  I mean, she had expected Ferraris, salad bars and fancy electives.  What she received her crayons, blocks, and a sign around her neck.


         “I’m not going back,” she informed me.


         Later in the day, driving past the elementary school on our way to the grocery store, I glanced at her and recoiled in horror as the expression on her sweet, adorable little face twisted into a frightening grimace.  She spat out the window in the direction of the school.  Oh my!


         The second day, she claimed to be sick.  I suspected fakery, but the thermometer proved her sickness to be real.  She, of course, blamed it on the school.


         She told her father, “That place is an incubator for disease.  I’m not going back there again.  Look what it’s done to me.”  Coughing pathetically and seeming to have to gasp for breath, she added, “If you love me, you won’t make me.”


         We didn’t know what we were going to do.  Home schooling?  A child psychologist?


         The problem resolved itself.  After staying home for three days, she proclaimed that she missed it.  Missed it?  She called all her friends.  She packed her own lunch.  The morning of the fourth day, she was dressed and ready to go.  I haven’t heard a word of complaint since.


         The whole experience reminds me of how her father, my husband, adjusted to marriage.


         Only I haven’t been so lucky in the complaint department!

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