I know that some schools already started last week and that some of you will start even later but my stepdaughter started 2nd grade today and the little one started her first day in the 3-year-old preschool classroom so…it’s the first day of school, you guys!
Our first days at school today were relatively benign and drama-free (yay!), but one of my co-workers wasn’t so lucky – his 7th grader somehow boarded the wrong bus and got taken to the wrong school, as in not even close. Fortunately, somebody he knew worked at that school and offered to give him a ride to the right school. Now that is certainly one he’s not going to forget.
I don’t remember all of my first days of school but that story definitely got me thinking about the ones that I do:
Kindergarten: Pretty much everybody remembers this one, right? I grew up in the country without any neighbors near my age and since I didn’t go to preschool or the normal Methodist or Catholic churches where all of my elementary school classmates went I literally didn’t know a soul going into kindergarten. Not one soul. Still, I was more than excited to go to school like my big brother did (he was a sophomore at the time). Even more exciting, my mom let me pick out my own outfit for the big event and with more care than you can ever imagine I selected a pair of dark denim jeans, a pink belt and a Care Bears t-shirt. I was, of course, taking my own Tenderheart Care Bear in for Show and Tell later that morning.
Believe it or not, even without knowing a soul I had a lot of fun that first day at kindergarten, at least when I recovered from the shock that I was the ONLY little girl who hadn’t worn a big poofy first day of kindergarten dress. That was pretty embarrassing, but I was mostly mad at my mom because it seemed like the sort of thing that she should have known because all of the other mothers obviously did and WHAT THE HELL WAS SHE THINKING LETTING ME WEAR JEANS THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN?
My mom actually felt very bad when I came home and told her of my trauma, but what’s done was done: I wore jeans to the first day of kindergarten. Much to my mom’s chagrin, you can rest assured that most of my major life problems since that day have been traced back to that incident.
First grade: Here’s a picture of me looking fly on my first day of first grade. I’m sure you can appreciate that Rainbow Brite lunchbox AND the Cabbage Patch Kid shirt (I love the 80s!) but what you can’t see in the picture is that paired with those pink culottes were the coolest pair of pink lace knee-high socks ever. You can bet that this was a risky fashion move for a first grader at the time and there was much hand-wringing by my mom about my “Madonna-esque teenage” style but in the end she relented I guess because it looked so cute and maybe too because I had done a lot of whining in the weeks leading up to that day:
Fifth grade: The only reason I remember this first day of school is because I got the stomach flu the night before and had to miss it. The same thing happened again junior year of high school. Doh!
Sixth grade: The summer between fifth and sixth grade I moved to a new school district. I remember being terrified of this day for many months leading up to it since I only knew a handful of people, but as with kindergarten it turned out to be just fine. There WAS a little note of awkward because I rode the wrong bus to school but that wasn’t so much my fault as the school district’s fault for telling us the wrong bus. That mix-up aside, I totally survived. Still, I quickly realized that the purple short jumpsuit my mom had made and my acid wash denim tote bag were not the sort of cool things that the kids at my new school were wearing.
Tenth grade: The only reason I remember this year is because that summer I became totally boy-crazy and I was so excited to go back to school and see boys even if they were just all the lame boys I already knew. Boys! Boys! Boys! Boys! Boys! Boys! Also, I wore a slip dress that day and circa 1994 slip dresses were SO FREAKIN’ COOL.
Senior year: My brother moved to Iowa shortly before my senior year began and we came home from visiting him at about 2 in the morning the night before the first day of school. So I was pretty tired. But my epic exhaustion paled in comparison to the awesome brown and beige saddle shoes I was wearing. Trust me, those were some good shoes.
My first days of college kind of blend together except that year I wore a really awesome pair of Abercrombie & Fitch jeans I found at Gabriel’s on the cheap. And then the first day of graduate school when our writing instructor made us draw a picture of how we see ourselves as a first day of class icebreaker. I only remember that because it was incredibly incredibly incredibly ridiculous*.
There’s my first day highlights. Reading this, it’s actually funny how many of my memories revolve around my fashion choices. I’m pretty sure that has EVERYTHING to do with wearing jeans on the first day of kindergarten.
Of course, now that I’m adult I have other first days to remember, like first days in a new apartment or at a new job or as a married person or a mommy, but as far as I’m concerned those first days of school will always be the original first day. I’m pretty sure I will always get a twinge of nostalgia when I see the school buses start to roll again each year, especially now as I think about what first day of school memories the girls will have when they are all grown up and maybe what I can do to make those memories the best that they can be.
But enough about mine, what are YOUR first day of school memories?
*Note to writing instructors: Nothing makes you feel like you just tossed 20 grand down the toilet quite like spending a first class doodling. Not that I paid 20 grand mind you, I work at Pitt, but my other classmates were less than pleased.