Monday, August 4, 2008

First Day of School

By Margy McCarthy

And so it begins.


Her outfit for the day was laid out carefully last night on the chair in the corner of the room. The matching accessories she selected are on the dresser.

Her new shoes are on the floor.

She didn’t sleep well- a combination of eager anticipation, adrenaline, and pure dread kept her from the rest she needed to face the coming day, and she’s up with the birds this morning. Up before the alarm clock had a chance to do its job.

Up before anyone else in the house.

There is plenty of time, and yet she’s racing the clock; doing battle with hair that refuses to cooperate; trying to control the trembling of her hands as she manipulates the hot iron, trying to quell the rising tide of questions that race hither-thither through her mind. Her two best friends moved away to other places and she feels left behind. What if no one wants to sit with me at lunch? Who will I talk to? What if the new kids don’t like me? She applies her makeup carefully, despite the sweat popping out along her hairline and the barometer’s promise to remove all traces of her application the second she walks out the door. What if I forget my schedule? What if the lockers don’t work? What if I say something stupid? What if they all laugh at me?

Well, she thinks, it could be worse. At least I don’t have to ride the bus.

She spritzes her hair with a final mist of spray and fumbles with the clasp of her carefully chosen necklace. She assesses her reflection in the mirror.

Everything looks all wrong. Who does she think she’s kidding?

She takes a deep breath and exhales slowly. Steady. Steady. She knows what her mother would tell her: “Just be yourself, honey. Just do what you’re there to do, and do it the very best you can. Don’t worry about what other people think.”

Well, sure. Easy for her to say. She’s old. She gets to stay home whenever she wants to. She isn’t going to have a zillion pairs of eyeballs staring at her today. She doesn’t have to worry about looking like a moron or a dweeb.

She can hear her family moving around in the kitchen now. Everybody’s up. She looks at the clock one last time and sighs.

She’d better go down and supervise breakfast.

Maybe she can look over her lesson plans one more time before she leaves too.


Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Oh, Margy, yes, non-teachers don't understand the nervousness that comes with the first day even for teachers.

I have a hunch you'll do great--and those kids have no idea how lucky they are.

Daisy said...

:) I hear you! I'll have that same first-day stress right after Labor Day. In fact, I spent time today planning a Power Point slide show for Open House. Oh, dear, those days are coming much too quickly...