Recommended wine for today’s entry: Lo Tengo Torrontes from Argentina. It’s a very crisp, dry white wine that is refreshing during these 90-plus-degree days. It’s very inexpensive AND the label has a hologram of people dancing. Really, a few glasses and you could amuse yourself for an hour making the people dance.
My high-schooler starts back to school this week, and it got me to thinking about first days of school. They are so different for each child, for each parent, and from each perspective.
So as the first in a three-part series, (not to be confused with “Roots” or “The Thorn Birds” )here are the scraps of memory that I have of my own early school days. Tomorrow and Wednesday I’ll tell you about my two daughters’ first days of kindergarten.
Now, to put myself in the 1965 mode…
I remember being REALLY excited about going to school because my brother had started two years prior and regaled me with story upon story about the huge, delicious lunches that people served to you, hot and gloppy. You even got dessert with lunch! Dessert at LUNCH? No way! Count me in.
We went shopping for supplies the week before school started. Oh, how I treasured the little cigar box (aptly labeled a “school box”) where I stashed all my perfectly sharpened pencils – I think we had to whittle them for the first day, then at school I discovered the second coolest thing, the crank pencil sharpener mounted to the wall that had a dial that accommodated any and all pencil sizes! Wow. And kids today think that the I Phone is a big deal. I remember my First Grade Tablet and the crayons that were mine and mine alone. Hands off, big brother! Don’t eat them little sister (she preferred cigarette butts anyway) – these were MINE.
So the first day, I got on the bus in my brand-new, blue plaid dress with smocking on the front. Yes, I said smocking. Finished the ensemble with a new pair of Susie tights, my shiny buckle shoes and my stunning blue horn-rims. Watch out boys!
About halfway to school, one of the older kids in the back of the bus started to make fun of some lady behind the bus. Many years later, I found out that it was my mother, following the bus in her battle green Ford Fairlane and sobbing uncontrollably. Good thing I didn’t know. It may have dented my suave demeanor. But now I think it was sweet.
I strode confidently into the elementary school, probably coming up to most people’s elbow. (If you’re picturing Webster now, you’re not far off.) I remember being awed by the long, shiny hallways filled with gaily decorated bulletin boards framed with that wavy corrugated paper. Wow! If the lunch with dessert was anything like the opulence of the hallways, I was in. I was a student.
Someone must have seen the short kid in the horn rims and asked me where I belonged, because the next thing I remember, I was gently turned away from the Hallway to Heaven and guided out the back door. Past the Port-O-Lets and the dumpster to a trailer beached on a bare spot on the back lawn. OK, they called it a Portable … but it was a trailer.
Still alright. I was unflappable. I proudly sat in the seat that had a crisply folded paper bearing my name – ah, my first place card. This, this is my name. I belong here.
But why was mine blue and not pink like the other girls’? Well, that mystery was solved when the teacher (whose name I’m sure I could safely use because she had to be 90 back then) looked at me with her hand on her chest and exclaimed, “Oh, NO! You’re a girl!”
OK, I was one of the original Ashleys and I guess she was expecting maybe Ashley Wilkes. So before I’d even gotten to the room I’d screwed up the whole boy-girl-boy-girl lineup in row 2.
Don’t hate me lady! I’m a total kiss-up! Look – I have thick glasses already! And I can read!
Never worked. About three times that day, grumpy teacher with the male-female pattern syndrome yelled at me. She’d be facing the board, writing, talking a mile a minute, and there’d be announcements coming over the intercom and kids drumming on their desks and suddenly, like she’d heard a giant thunderclap, she’d stop. Still facing the board, she’d announce (in, what I have to say now was a very bitchy voice) … “TALKING, SECOND ROW, THIRD SEAT.”
The first time I thought my face was going to explode. I think even my legs turned red under my ½” thick Susie tights. The second time I started to cry, but subtly, and the third time I crossed my arms on my desk and buried my head in them.
And to this day, I’ll swear to you I wasn’t talking. I know who it was but I won’t rat her out. She sat next to me and she had WHITE horn rims. I even got a C in conduct the first semester of first grade and it was … the other girl … who was talking.
Things did get better. By second grade I was out of the portable, my teacher actually looked at the line that said M or F and seated me accordingly, and I learned how to throw my voice.