Monday, August 20, 2012

Looking Back


I remember my first day of first grade well. It began the evening before with a new 'Tom and Jerry' book-bag and a soda shared with my father. I felt so very grown up despite the fact my toes couldn't even touch the floor from the restaurant chair where I was sitting.

I loved the sensation of swinging my legs back and forth as I paused from my excited chatter just long enough to sneak another peak at my new school supplies below. That night I was to stay at my neighbor's home because my father had to work. I did not mind a bit either, because my neighbor had promised to do my hair up nice in the morning.


Dad was good a lots of stuff, but styling my long hair never topped the list.

I woke up the next day long before there was motion anywhere else in the house. I don't know how many times I was sent back to bed before I finally had the green light to throw off my covers. I was ready to go to school and I was ready to get those curlers off of my head! I had high expectations for the day and I wanted to waste no time.

My dad waited with me at the bus stop with the other kids' moms. Finally, the bus came and off I went. When I arrived at my class I was seated next to a girl named Teressa. Our desks were bumped together and placed smack dab in the center row, right in the middle of the classroom. Teressa did not say much, but kept looking at me funny. I was the one to break the silence. My first words to her were,"Don't worry, my hair doesn't always look like this." She remained a girl of few words. The only response she could muster was,"Good."

The rest of the school day is now a blur, but what I do recall is getting off the bus from the return trip and bolting as fast as I could back to where I knew Dad would be. When I swung open the door to our apartment I was crying and declared that I had no need to go back. After Dad did a bit of sleuthing he discovered that I was mostly upset because my teacher was a 'boy'. Up until that one devastating day I had not known that men could be teachers. It is interesting to note that this scene would be repeated on the last day of the school year after I discovered that this same teacher would not be mine for the Second Grade. It turned out that he was a GREAT teacher and I was going to miss his cartwheels during spelling. That day however, I just wanted to be home with my dad.

It is now twenty-six years later and tomorrow is the first day of school in our school district. I am absolutely convinced that homeschool is the right thing for our family, but it still causes me to pause when I think that I won't be gathering with other moms at the bus stop and that my daughter won't be entering a first grade classroom without me, even though she is now seven and has reached our state's age of mandatory enrollment. She won't learn what text books are, or about the need to look like everyone else. Tomorrow she will be home with Mom and Dad, her sister and her brothers. We will read about Mr. Popper and his penguins and we will cook. She will undoubtedly empty her jar of money onto the floor to be counted just as she does everyday, even though she has added nothing to the total since her last calculations.

Yes, I have learned a huge lesson since my very first day of school:

Not only can 'boys' be instructors, but moms and dads can too. Tomorrow my husband and I will remain her teachers and life will be her classroom. We will do cartwheels out in the yard together and we might even wave at the school bus as it passes by our house.

Note: This is an old post from my previous blog that has been added to this blogs's archives in order to document our family's journey and start off a week examining why we do what we do.  I know that the educational choices we make for our children weigh heavily on us parents and I would love for you to join the discussion by sharing your own thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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