1988 was a big year. George H.W. Bush won the election, the Washington Redskins were Super Bowl champs, Doppler radar was invented, and George Michael’s “Faith” was number one on the music charts. As big as these things might have been to the world, they paled in comparison to the monumental event 1988 brought for me. The start of kindergarten.
Although time has long since dulled the exact memories and feelings associated with that first day, I can still remember some of the angst that accompanied waiting for the bus to arrive. With the back-to-school exodus approaching it’s always fun to watch the restless parents corralling their children around, organizing them back into the school groove.
For some of these kids, it’s almost blast off, their first day of school. With that thought brings excitement about the future. Like little astronauts they’re getting shot off into life, to maximize their potential and find something within them that makes them special. Seeing these newbie students brings with it nostalgia and makes it fun to look back on ourselves and try to remember our first school experiences.
For me, it was a day well prepared for. For days ahead of time my parents briefed me on what to expect and where to go; who to report to if there were any problems and to respect my teachers. We lived out in the sticks so I had to be ready extra early (something I found myself more situated for as a kid than an adult) because the bus ride was over an hour long. Awaiting the bus was a family affair. It was photographed and given great ceremony as one of the great milestones in a kid’s life is ought to receive.
I remember my dog waiting by my side on that cool fall morning and her aware that something out of the ordinary was amidst. When the great hulking bus arrived, I’m told that I approached it with relish, excitedly climbing aboard and greeting the friendly driver. If I was afraid to sit next to the bigger kids, that fear was quickly resolved when my good friend Riki- who lived down the road- waved to me and welcomed in to share the large seat.
The school seemed huge and I had never seen so many people my own age. It was scary and wonderful all at the same time. To be taken from what you know and be placed into this environment is truly frightening for any kid. I’m sure I missed my parents and I’m sure that it wasn’t all that glamorous that first week but I look back on the experience with a light heart and happy memories. These are the moments that craft our children and help them grow strong and able to cope with their world. Think about it. You are released from your comfort zone and expected to survive in a foreign realm full of all manners of people; some friendly others not so much. I’m sure the process has become more streamlined; more perfect, but one thing is for sure. When you step back off of that bus, after your first day of school is over, you are different. You have grown and gotten a taste of just how big the world truly is.