I’ve been enjoying all the first day of school posts lately on Facebook of my friends’ kids and grandkids. Standing on the front porch are smiling youngsters holding a sign that says: “Duncan – First Grade” or “Natalie – Kindergarten.”
When my sister’s oldest child started kindergarten, the teacher gave the parents little care packages to take home. (One way to get the lingerers to leave.) I knew her kid would be fine, but I thought I should check on my little sister. The care package she’d received contained, among other things, a bag of herbal tea, suggesting she have a cup and relax. A cotton ball taped to a card that said, “To remind you of your child’s gentle spirit.” And a tissue, which she promptly blew her nose with. “That cotton ball was a low blow,” she told me, tears streaming.
My brother and sister-in-law reacted a little differently when kindergarten time rolled around for their first-born. They decided to wait until the next year to send her. Their daughter is an exceptional child (this is her aunt talking) and would’ve been just fine I’m sure, but her parents needed to be held back a year. She’s a junior in college now. But my brother’s youngest kid goes away to college this month, so I’m sending thoughts and prayers to the empty nesters. Maybe I should send them a care package.
I remember the mixed bag of feelings I had as a youngster when school would start back in the fall. I didn’t want my summer vacation to end, but I wanted to see my friends. I had the feeling my parents were quite ready for school to start. My mom would take my sister and me clothes shopping. We’d hit the back-to-school sales at the department stores, where there were all these cute sweaters, and layered tops, and corduroy pants.
School would start in Memphis just after Labor Day, which people in many areas of the country consider autumn. But, weather-wise, September was still summer for us. And so was October. I’d get so impatient, I’d usually end up talking my mother into letting me wear one of my new fall outfits, only to regret it as I sat in class wilting.
In high school, I remember my sister and I had been especially excited one year when my mom had let us each buy a brand-name cashmere sweater that featured a trendy logo. We didn’t always get to buy the “brand-name” items, but we happened to catch these on a good sale.
We proudly wore them for a while — until my dad decided to help out with laundry. He put our wool sweaters in the dryer! Our sporting horse logos shriveled up into a small pony. I ended up giving mine to my third-grade cousin. Sigh. At least it looked good on her.
Do you have any back-to-school stories to share, or remember a favorite new outfit you got for starting back to school? What design was on your favorite lunchbox? (Mine was The Monkees!)