The First Day of School


Yesterday was the first day of school. More shots were tossed back by otherwise homely, boring soccer moms than on any other day of the year. If you got all of your kids’ paperwork in on time, sent your child to school with matching sox, had lunch money that was in higher denominations than nickels, bottoms up. You rock. 

Ergo, I rock.

My son and daughter, reigning king and queen of adaptation, had their first day at a new school today. They breezed in, their homeroom assignments written in their brains and on their hands, and ignoring my pleas for them to be more nervous, came home with bored yawns. They nailed it.

They even handled lunch just fine. One of my biggest fears is walking into a high school cafeteria without prearranged plans to eat lunch with someone. More than encountering a black bear in the forest, I fear the idea that someone - anyone, anywhere - is standing in a high school lunch room with a tray of steaming beige food, staring at tables full of peers and not knowing where to sit. (This fear is just below that same kid finding a seat with some nice kids and then choking on his food.)

Maybe I’ve seen too many teen movies, but even at Hogwarts, there are cliques. And as much as I don’t want my kids to be the cliquish type, it would be nice if they were in one just for lunch period.

But lunch was fine. First period class was fine. English was fine, even for my daughter, who was mistakenly put into the wrong class. She filled out the schedule change request form and handed it into the right teacher. Who raised this girl?

I remember the first day of school being a monster. I was always wearing brown shoes that I had just gotten from Lustig’s a few days before. They still had that first-day-of-school smell (which I now recognize as shoe leather and sweaty feet in white knee sox) and by Social Studies had caused quarter-sized blisters on my ankle bones.

I spent half the morning worrying that the outfit I had planned and picked out from mid-June to late August wasn’t going to cut it now that it was early September. And I spent the other half of the morning worrying that my teacher was going to be mean or that I was going to be put in special ed. I think this stems from the year I had Miss Scott for fifth grade. Miss Scott, who had been the special ed teacher for 10 years right up until the time she was switched to fifth grade. Miss Scott, whose name was read off of my Welcome Back to School postcard by my mom, who then said, “What the hell?” when we both realized either the Hubbard Schools had done a major reorganization or I was retarded.

I actually had no reason to be afraid or worry on any of my first days of school. I was smart, I had lots of friends, my outfit was always cool and/or tuff (with the exception of the orange and white striped jumper set - oh, what was my mother thinking?) and I had fairly stress-free lunches.

Kids today are just more adaptable. Maybe it’s the early socialization with preschool and day care, and the fact that parents go out and leave them with babysitters a lot more than my generation’s parents did. 

Or maybe it’s that kids don’t ever let their parents have a better day than they’re having. They know while they’re at school, getting new textbooks, hearing the conduct code seven times, signing promises not to blow up the science lab, and looking for a place to sit in the lunchroom, we’re at home drinking shots.