September 09, 2012

Back To School, Back in Time…Interview with Lori’s Reading Corner

My Favorite First Day of School
By Cathy Lamb
I would have to say one of my favorite first days of school occurred when I was in first grade. It involved tattling on my little brother and it delighted me to no end.
Finally, I could get my brother, the darn saint, in trouble!
My brother, Jimmy, is eighteen months younger than me.  My mother, Bette Jean, a lovely lady, walked us to school in Huntington Beach, California on the first day.  My older sister was with us, as was my younger sister who was about two at the time.
We walked through the cement tunnel, past the scary barking dogs, and inhaled the scent of honeysuckle hanging over a wire fence, which still, to this day, reminds me of my walk to school. My mother dropped me off at first grade where I was assigned the intimidating Mrs. Kenyon for a teacher.
I did later learn that she did not yell that loud (those were the days when teachers could yell at students without parents coming in to yell back), and she banged the piano keys with enthusiastic force. I learned how to sing She’ll Be Coming Around The Mountain with great gusto.
Anyhow, I digress. After leaving me safely ensconced with Mrs. Kenyon, my mother then dragged my sister to the Kindergarten section where she dropped off my nemesis, and the source of all my angst, Jimmy.
Right before school started, I skipped out to recess.  I played wall ball with all my might and swung from the monkey bars. It was during one, delicious moment, head down, knees clenched around a bar, when off in the distance, what did I see?
I saw my brother, the boy who always got me into trouble. My mother’s favorite, I was sure!
Jimmy was scampering off the playground towards home, making a wild, but useless, dash for freedom.
Ha!  I still remember the football jersey he was wearing. It was number 86.  His short legs were pumping, arms swinging. Upside down on those monkey bars, I practically chortled.
Well now. My poor mother, who was probably soooo looking forward to getting rid of three of her four loud and naughty children for the day, was still near theKindergarten section. In fact, her eyes were scanning their playground with the castle playhouse for my brother. Where did he go? Where was her curly blonde sweetheart?
I skipped and hopped right over to my mother, hoping my brother’s punishment for escaping from the school grounds would be fierce. Perhaps he would have to sleep outside for a month, foraging for food on his own? Perhaps he would be locked up in jail? Perhaps I would get his skateboard or his nifty bike? I would like that!
I gleefully ran up to my mother and pointed at my brother, the soon-to-be-convict.  “There he is, mommy! Do you see him! Right there!”
Her face stilled.  Poor woman.  She could almost smell the coffee she had planned on drinking with all of us out the door. She grabbed my sister by the hand and started sprinting for home. My mother took the short cut. I have never let my brother forget that when he was escaping, he took the loooong way home, through the park. Why did he do this? Silly boy!
Anyhow, my mother hurried off in her pretty flowered dress, my sister practically flying out behind her. She met Jimmy at the door and dragged him back to school. My brother, who is now a brave, strong dude working as a lieutenant in the fire department, told me later he had simply decided that he “didn’t want to go to Kindergarten,” hence the hair raising run through the playground.
So, why was that my favorite first day of school, especially since none of my imagined punishments came through?
Ah, because of the tattling and the teasing rights I had later. I believe my first words to him when I came home were, “Scaredy cat,” and we went from there.
Plus, in my advancing age I have treasured forever the image of my little brother, in his number 86 football jersey, who is not little at all anymore, running free from school, too frightened to attend Kindergarten, of all things.
Hmmm….Perhaps I will tell his son today, his first day of school, what his father did. Watch out, Jimmy! The tattling continues!

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Cathy Lamb
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