Keep Smiling…School daze, then and now


By Rosie Preston

Strange title for a column, you think?

Even though I looked forward to my granddaughter beginning another school year, I find myself daydreaming as I watch her enter her school. I think back to my very first day of school. There was a special kind of electrical current in the air!

Carrying a notebook and pencil and wearing new shoes and new clothes – this was all it took for me to know I would enjoy school! I had been tracing my neighbor’s schoolwork for years and would pretend I was a teacher and my younger sister was the student. I was a very strict teacher, and she went to the corner a lot. She’s never let me live it down!

School is such an initiation! It bursts forth and sets in motion something in a child that will never be the same again. The first day of school is filled with anticipation, fear, new rules and a teacher who seems much bigger than life. Who could ever forget their first teacher or the feeling of walking into a class full of strangers?

Even though so much has changed since I was in school, I am very aware of the glow on children’s faces as they shop with their parents for school supplies. Store carts everywhere are full. New clothes, new shoes, notebook paper, pencils and backpacks fill up as the cash register totals the amount due. Parents are thinking, “I can’t believe it’s costing this much to send my child to school. And this doesn’t include all the different registration fees!”

Is it true that the more things change, the more they stay the same? The style of clothes has changed and become full circle, as the styles I used to wear are all fashionable in today’s world. My grandchildren couldn’t believe it wasn’t until 1969 that girls were allowed to wear pants to school! That helped us not to freeze as we changed classes between buildings.

The younger children still take naps at school, except that it now costs $20. I used to take a towel to lie on the floor. Children are amazing at how easily they go to sleep after a full morning of staying busy.

The school lunches have changed, for sure. Back in my day, we only had regular milk to drink. Nowadays, children can have choices of not only their drinks but their food. They probably are complaining just as loudly as we did – “I don’t want this, I don’t like this.”

I’m still in a reminiscent mood as I look in the mirror and accept the years have gone by very quickly. I don’t feel much different than I did when I was a young woman with two children at home. But would I go back? No way! I like knowing what I know now.

My grandson Dakota star-ted public school last week. He asked me if I was ever a little girl.

“Yes, and I still have that little girl who lives inside me,” I told him.

It will be a long time before Dakota understands that when I watched him walk to the big yellow school bus, the adult in me still remembered being little when I started riding the bus. It was one of the first times I left my family and my comfort zone, and was on my way to finally have a real teacher. Now I could learn to read and write!

I was nostalgic for my home and my mother the first few weeks of school. I was lost in a school daze back then, also!

Author’s note: This article was published years ago. Dakota is now working on a college degree and will soon graduate. Instead of watching my grandchildren, I now have the blessing to know and be involved with five little great-grandchildren! 

Keep Smiling, Rosie

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