ChitChat: First Day of School

My strongest memories of the first day of school are also my oldest memories. I was the youngest in my family, so I grew up watching all my big brothers go off to school and I couldn’t wait for the day when I could join them. I remember when I was going into first grade my mom had taken us shopping for new school clothes. My brothers, appropriately, got new Umbros and t-shirts. I, on the other hand, got a wool Minnie Mouse sweater with matching pink and purple polkadot leggings (pictured above). I was SO excited to wear that outfit that I insisted on wearing it on the first day despite the fact that it was early September and still very warm out. My mom relented and I wore it and I was so hot all day, but at the same time, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so cool again in my life.

So, today I’m introducing a new featured called ChitChat. Each month I’ll ask a panel of people one simple question and they’ll share their thoughts, memories, and opinions. This month I asked, “What memories do you think of when you hear ‘first day of school?'” (Check out some of their back to school pictures at the end!)
Chelley panel
Chelley: First day of school means so many things for me. I think I’ve forgotten exactly how I felt about it  in high school because it was just the day when two-a-days stopped, and field hockey practice  moved to once a day after school. But as a child… it elicits such joy and anticipation. Wanting  to hold my father’s hand and let it go simultaneously. I know I would walk away from him, and,  though I think he didn’t ever see it, I would look out the window and watch him go- his suit  jacket unbuttoned and his boots lightly dragging on the pavement from the preschool building  to the mail building of Meadowbrook School.
I can remember how cool I felt taking the bus (even though my parents were totally following in  their car), and the sound of a brand new zipper opening and closing. The smell of plastic from a pencil case. New markers and glue sticks and freshly printed name tags on our desks. Presenting book reports, using highlighters I didn’t need (yet) and getting the classroom job of clapping the erasers. The first day of school held such promise for the year… and I still have that anticipation. As I move into filling out paperwork for kindergarten for my own child, I smile at the school shopping, LL Bean monogrammed backpacks, choosing the first day outfit… and cringe at the thought of letting her hand go from my own.
(Read more of Chelley’s writing at AisforAdelaide.com)
mary

Mary: September, 1957, first day of first grade, walked to school with 2 big brothers and then left alone in a classroom of 75 children and one scary nun.  I knew my friends Helen and Frank who lived on my street, so that was good, but the class was so big I hardy knew how to find them.

One girl was crying and wouldn’t/couldn’t stop in spite of being ordered to by the teacher, who was becoming more and more annoyed (I thought I saw smoke come out of her wimple, although I didn’t know it was a wimple at the time) and the kids were growing more and more nervous until–suddenly–crying girl made a run for it!  Off she ran, out of the room toward the back stairway to freedom!  Off ran the good Sister, furious that she had already lost control.  Seventy four 6 year olds sitting with hands folded on their desks, hoping Sister wouldn’t return, but alas, return she did, with crooked wimple, beet red face, exclaiming “The little brat kicked me!”  Yikes!  At least that’s how I remember my first day of school. (P.S.–The “little brat” spent first grade in public school)

Steve

Steve: I would rate my feelings toward the first day of school as neutral, leaning towards negative.  It was the best school day of the year other than maybe the last day, or maybe the day before Christmas break, or some random day like Acceptance Day or Purple Gold Day.  It was the end of summer, which was heartbreaking, but you couldn’t help but be excited for the first day.  What will your new teachers be like? What will the girls look like?  You got brand new clothes for at least the first three days and the workload will be light.  The first day of school is great.

But, sadly, the first day of school passes, and soon it’s like you never left.  As a kid I unfortunately regarded school as a punishment rather than the gift that it was.  But I still don’t see how you’re going to convince a 9-13 year-old otherwise (that’s the age group I’m thinking of because the summers before you were expected to have a job were the best).  When you spend your summers out in the woods biking, fishing, rope-swinging, catching frogs, vacations down the shore boogie boarding, eating ice cream, catching crabs, and suddenly you’re stuffed in a classroom and forced to learn…I think I’ve explained enough why my feelings lean toward negative.

Colleen Panel

 Colleen: Believe it or not I’m pretty sure the only “first day” of school I can actually remember might have been my first day of school ever. I have a vague memory of being upset because my mom left, and a boy came over and showed me a book to help make me feel better, and it worked. I honestly think I might have been 3 years old, so I guess it really goes to show a little kindness goes a long way!

Moira panel

MoiraDread!! Actually I don’t know if that is how I felt back when I was in school, but that is how my 35 year old self feels when I think about the first day of school. I also have memories of being really excited, mixed in with a lot of nervousness. What classes will I have? Who will my teachers be? Will my friends be in my classes? What should I wear the first day? Those feelings definitely continued into college, and nursing school later on in life. I think the first day of school is daunting no matter your age.
Leslie panel
Leslie: Since I was a single parent, a good bit of the memories were dropping my son off before school, not about the school itself. I just remember looking forward to and having fun doing the back to school shopping once we got the list. We would head to the store and just buy everything. I was proud to be in line. I always found it a fun time to be together and made me feel that this was really one small part of the joys of being a mom. My son probably hated it. It was sad to me when he got old enough to go himself and with his friends.  But of course that needed to happen.

And a personal funny memory of a first day of school – one of our neighbors had an exchange student from Spain.  However, just before school started the neighbor went into the hospital and needed emergency surgery.  So, I had to be become the exchange student’s “parent” for a few days. This included the first day of school and helping the student to ride the school bus. I took my newfound temporary responsibility very seriously. So, after the high school student boarded the bus I actually followed the bus to the school to make sure he was okay, hoping not to be seen, the whole time laughing to myself.

Theresa (not pictured): One of my sons wasn’t thrilled about going to school. When he came home on his first day of school, I told him I bet he had fun and that I missed him. He didn’t even answer me. On the morning of the second day of school he told me “Mom, I won’t go to school…. You’ll miss me too much and I’ll worry about you.”

hart

Hartley: I had to call my mom regarding this. My memories are mostly me being nervous, but she recalls me being excited — I always liked school. However, she agreed with my recollection of being nervous for college.  I must have blocked this out, but the first college I attended was in the middle of Massachusetts, and it was really close to where my aunt, uncle, and their kids live, so my mom planned on my family staying there the night before move-in day. But apparently I was so nervous I made us stay at a hotel down the street from their house so I could, I don’t know, lay my clothes out the night before and be assured that no little kids messed with them? Like I said, I must have blocked it out. Too nervous.

What are your memories from the first day of school? Any good stories your kids brought home? Let’s talk! PS. Check out some first day of school pictures below!

Chelley and her dad on the first day of school

Chelley on the first day of school

Moira and her sister on the first day of school

Moira & her sister on the first day of school

 

Hartley on the first day of second grade

Hartley on the first day of second grade

 

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28 thoughts on “ChitChat: First Day of School

  1. I love this new ChitChat feature 🙂 And Mary’s first day story cracked me up! Mostly because I’m terrified of nuns, but I digress….
    As someone who moved around a lot in my elementary school years I had more “first day of schools” than most. I remember my first day of schools when it was actually the first day of school for everyone as being really exciting. I couldn’t wait to wear my new outfits, see people I didn’t get to see all summer, & figure out who would be in my class for the rest of the year. My first day of schools that were only first for me & I had to be “the new girl” were a lot more daunting! My 4th grade year I had my first day of school at my school in Mississippi which was exciting because it was the first day for everyone & was met with all the usual excitement of the previous year. It was followed by a full month & a half of school & then a move back to Pennsylvania for my first day of school as the “new girl” which is always a little scary. I remember it like it was yesterday, partly because I felt like people looked at me weird due to my slight southern accent & bowl cut in the process of growing out & mostly because that was the year I met some of the best friends that I still have to this day as well as the man I’ll be marrying in less than a month : )

  2. Fun idea! My worst memory was my first day of 4th grade at a new school. It have never been so nervous in my entire life.

  3. Seems so long ago I cannot remember! I have some memories of daily life of school but what I remember about getting ready for school is getting to wear some of the new clothes my mom bought me just for school.

  4. I love this new Chit Chat thing you’re doing. It’s very cool. I’m sorry everyone, but I had to laugh when I saw some of these pictures. Not that I have any room to laugh, my school pictures where ATROCIOUS!

  5. I love this new feature. Most of my back to school memories involve dragging my reluctant kids to school and convincing them that they would like it. My daughter would get sick every day for the first week of school before finally deciding that she liked it.

  6. Ah, first days of school! I love the nun story. I loved a lot of things about going back to school, but I hated waking up early. The first day of school was the only day I would actually wake up early and get there early.

  7. I always hated the first day of school…and most other days. I was painfully shy and just felt very nervous. I think that had alot to do with it. I don’t talk about it in front of my kids though. They’ll be starting school next year and I do not want to negatively influence them.

  8. These are priceless memories! How fun to have such special pictures to document. I have such fond memories of putting on my new first day of school outfits and feeling butterflies on my way to school.

  9. I think the chitchat is such a great idea! I always love going back to school because I got to see friends, and I actually like learning! My daughter on the other hand, only likes to go back because she gets bored during the summer. LOL!

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