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Life Happens: That first day going back to school is really OK

BUFFALO ––The first day of school is upon us. I remember sending my kids off on the bus, and waiting anxiously for them to return. Invariably, the answer to my question, “How was your first day of school,” was always a one-word answer: “OK.”

I always wondered how something so important could be reduced to that one, vague answer. But then I then thought back to my own youth and my own single-word remark to my mom: “OK.”

Why did I say that? How can anyone explain that first day of school? That day marked the end of summer fun. I would be expelled from my bed at an ungodly hour on an early September morning, to sit in front of a “good” breakfast, and be unwillingly stuffed into “normal” clothes.

No more rolling out of bed whenever I felt like it. No more marshmallows and Tootsie Rolls® in front of the TV in the morning and no more bathing suits and bare feet.

The bus door swung open and mass mayhem greeted my ears. The whole vehicle was filled with a swarming mass of kids I had never seen before. We entered the school doors like we were walking the green mile. The whole place smelled like bologna sandwiches and new sneakers.

After that first reality check, though, things got better. Enthusiastic instructors were excited about teaching interesting new things and we would almost forget about leaving the summer behind.

New notebooks, sharp pencils, world maps and the promise of fun science experiments made my entire attitude shift. Like magic, I was back in the saddle again, ready, willing and able.

Of course, that first lunch period was agonizing for a few moments, when I didn’t know who to sit with. I would search the teeming throng for another kid looking lost and a lunch buddy would be created.

Most of the day was spent lining up partners for dodge ball, friends in homeroom or kids to sit with on the bus ride home.

As the day progressed, my school teachers gave the students course outlines, lists of necessary school supplies and important papers for parents to sign. There was so much to remember after a summer of not worrying about anything at all.

Some time after lunch, the back-to-school shoes that I just had to have because they were red would start pinching my toes and that new sweater would become ferociously warm and itchy.

My school bag felt like it weighed a ton as I finally dragged it up the bus steps. I would get off the bus after the best part of the day was gone, sweaty, crabby and dying of thirst.

How was my first day of school? After peeling off my prison of a sweater and grabbing a snack, it was OK. It really was.

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