Remember being a kid on the first day of school? If you were anything like me, it was a bittersweet day, the end of summer nearly eclipsed by the excitement of a new year.
You probably woke up before your alarm clock sounded. If you were lucky, your mom woke you with a kiss on your forehead. You’d hurry into the bathroom to brush your teeth, but only the front ones because today was not a day to waste time on petty things like molars.
After your teeth were clean enough and your hair combed to perfection, you’d pull on your First Day of School Outfit, laid out carefully the night before. You’d check your reflection in the mirror and nod. Looking good, looking REAL good.
You’d top off your outfit with your brand new pair of shoes, pristine shoes scant of scuff marks.
You’d pack your lunch, a PB&J with the perfect jelly-to-peanut-butter ratio, into your brand new lunchbox.
You’d navigate your Trapper Keeper and your pencil box full of freshly sharpened pencils and place your lunch gingerly inside your backpack, the one you’d picked out specially, agonizing over the selection in the backpack aisle until you found the one that was just right.
With any luck, you’d get to school early.
Maybe even early enough to meet your friends on the playground for a little before-school recess.
And then you’d summon your courage and walk to class to meet your teacher, who upon first glance seemed a little nutty.
You soon discovered that your teacher was the kind who not only loved music, but art, too.
When it came time for math, your teacher explained it in such a way that you, the kid who hated math, felt like Einstein.
Before you knew it lunchtime came around and nothing, nothing was such a relief as when a friend rescued you from sitting alone at the lunch table.
After lunch and a sweaty recess of dominating the tetherball court, your teacher would lead you back into class, where you’d cool off, rest your head on your desk and maybe even nod off a second or two under the calming rhythm of your teacher’s voice reading a good book.
Then you’d pull out your notebook, all the pages crisp and white, just waiting for your words, your magnum opus, “What I Did On Summer Vacation.”
If you were really lucky, you visited the library. The librarian, who smelled like chocolate chip cookies and old books, helped you check out a stack of books to take home.
And just like that, the first day was over. You’d race home and tell your mom all the details of the day. And then before the summer sun settled down for the night, you’d ditch your school stuff and race out the front door to play with your neighborhood friends.
After all, even Einstein didn’t study all the time.
Alicia McCauley is a first grade teacher and a teacher consultant for the Northern California Writing Project. This gives her ample opportunities to overcome her fear of public speaking by talking with fellow teachers about her passion: teaching kids to love writing. Throughout her childhood, Alicia won awards for her truly magnificent poetry. She’s since stopped torturing people with her bad poetry and instead spends her free time endurance cycling. Alicia married her high school sweetheart, who loves her despite her stubborn nature, affinity for candy, and fear of birds. Read more of her work at her blog, Pedals & Pencils.
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