I can honestly say that yes I miss the start of school. The feeling is innate and how can it not be? Thirty five years of my life was spent teaching. Dreams come to me that I should be at school, can’t find my things and then wake up—or are those nightmares? Either nightmares or the true knowing that I gave away almost all of my personal teaching things. And they aren’t here.
Oh trust me, I’ve seen the back to school supplies in stores and feel an urge to load up the shopping cart and realize No I don’t have to do that any more . And so to satisfy that feeling I buy a big package of Sharpies in every color: That is at least something that I can use.
I don’t miss the never ending putting up new supplies, numbering boxes of crayons, sharpening a thousand pencils, stamping the school name in brand new text books and putting up new bulletin boards. That routine went on for almost two weeks every single year before school started. What I do miss are the fresh faces of kids who were so ready to learn.
That first day is forever etched in my memory. Most of my teaching career was spent in the second grade. Imagine young kids that had just left first grade and having to hear what all they would be doing throughout the year. They just sat there and gasped. Every time. I’d go over the classroom rules, homework expectations, trips and the like and I’d see faces either in shock or wonderment. And it never failed that by nine o’clock, a child would ask “Is it lunch time yet?” I’d reply “In two hours it will be.” “Two hours?” moaned more than one child. Actually it was probably the entire class. Within half an hour another child would ask “Is it time to go home?” My answer was not pleasant as it resounded around the room. “No. Not for a couple of hours.” “Hours?” I heard. “Yes, trust me it’s hours before you go home.” A giant hush fell over the classroom or maybe it was a giant feeling of defeat on the children’s part. Stuck there for hours is an eternity for young children.
In all honesty, I never got any sleep before the first day of school and that was every single year. I was excited just as much as the children were or maybe more so. Time had been spent in the room prior as I wrote but not for them—it was going to be all new. That first day was a true joy and once it ended, it seemed as if I had never left for summer vacation. Come the next school day and it seemed as if we had been together forever.
So many memories of past first days of school loom in my mind. The fresh young faces of eager children, shy ones and those who were in a state of shock are still remembered by me. Each and every one of them has not been forgotten. Trust me that this coming Friday, August 9 will be a day that I will wake up early, feel that I should be at school and miss it. After all, how can you not miss doing something that you loved?
It’s a hard habit to shake. And no doubt it will go on forever with me—that feeling “I should be there.” My heart will be there with the new teachers and new children wishing that they have a successful year and get through that first day. Know they will. Just wait for those questions about lunch and going home. It’s inevitable. And it has always brought a smile to my face. Still does.