Tuesday, September 20, 2005

first day of school



Do you remember that feeling you'd get in the pit of your stomach on the first day of a new school year? A queasy mix of excitement and anxiety -- a nervous anticipation of the coming months... Will the teacher be kind and interesting? Am I wearing the right clothes? Will I be able to understand everything that's going on in the classroom? Will I fit in? Will the other kids be friendly? Will I be safe? Will I be OK?

Truthfully, I don't know how much Elliot wrestled with these thoughts today, on his first morning of pre-school. Probably not so much. But as his father, I certainly anxiously pondered the whole gamut of these age-old questions -- and that familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach plagued me all the way through breakfast and the preparation routines of the morning.

As it turned out, Elliot was brave and proud even in the last minutes leading up to his school debut. While I was fretting over my clothing emsemble and mentally rehearsing relevant Dutch phrases that might be necessary for the morning's rigors, my son simply got dressed in the clothes picked out for him by his mother, ate his typical breakfast, and smiled in anticipation of the much-heralded "first day of school." I was a nervous wreck pedalling the short distance between our home and the school, nausea and cold sweats sweeping over my body, while Elliot calmly enjoyed the scenery and actually brightened when he started recognizing landmarks that indicated our approach to his school.

It did so happen that Elliot's iron optimism and stern resolve melted a bit when Mommy and Olivia said good-bye, bravely balancing on the verge of tears to convince me that he was ready to go home (just twenty minutes after our arrival). So I ended up staying for the whole three hours (upon the advice of the teachers)... and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I felt better about my own anxieties to know that my three-and-a-half-year-old also felt a bit anxious when it really came down to it.

But we regrouped and revived, like the "Band of Brothers" -- ordinary, mortal men serving as soldiers in the foxholes on the front lines, facing imminent death yet drawing a strange sense of courage and perseverance from their common struggle. It wasn't long before we were learning the foreign clean-up songs and introduction games together. Within an hour or so, Elliot decidedly unclipped himself from the figurative leash and somehow figured out a way to interact with a bunch of Moroccan and Turkish immigrant kids -- none of whom speak the same mother-tongue...

And before long, we had made it through our first day of school.

3 Comments:

At 9:45 PM, Blogger MichaĆ«l said...

Congratulations! There's was big smile on my face reading the story. Very nice. He's growing up. :-)

 
At 6:47 PM, Blogger Will said...

That's awesome! I can't imagine the feelings of a son's first day - let alone in a foreign? country...

 
At 9:34 AM, Blogger patricia said...

Beautifully told as always, Eric. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the real stories of you & your family's lives. I read a great quote in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles recently that your writing and "take on life" reminds me of. In my usual style, I cannot remember the exact quote but I will try to capture the heart of it ...
"Reality is a magic poorly understood."
Your stories reveal the magic and preciousness that you see in the everyday moments, joys & struggles of life. God has given you a special perspective on life. Thanks for sharing it with the rest of us.

 

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