It was the first day of school. Nobody could prepare me for this. My mom said it would be fun. My friends were excited that we would have more time at school together. My teacher the previous year said that the next year would be even better.
However, I was scared.
Mrs. Johnson only looked nice in the school pictures. In person she was a different person. Yeah, some of the kids liked her. But not me. She was Dorothy’s wicked witch to me. All she was missing on that first day of school was green skin and a big wart on her chin. Well, I guess she didn’t have the black pointed hat or black dress or striped socks or black shoes. Instead she had black hair and big rimmed glasses.
She was younger then my previous teacher but she was still old. Older than my mom that is. And to me that meant she was going to be strict. And she was. But that was 36 years ago. I was six years old. It was first grade.
My worst memory that year came during the winter. Our classroom had it’s own bathroom at the back. And next to the bathroom door was an outside door that led to the playground. It made for some great convenience when playing took higher priority than running off to the bathroom when the urge came on. There were some close calls that could have been terrible experiences for many kids had the bathroom been any further away from that door.
But one day, that urge came to one particular student and what could have been a close call turned in to a horrible experience. Why? Not because child wanted to continue playing until the last moment possible before running off to the toilet. No, in this case the student decided to head right away to the bathroom. But relief was not to be on that particular day.
The teacher was enjoying her 15 minutes of freedom while the kids were at recess. She didn’t want to be bothered at all. Especially with any kids that would be opening the outside door and letting the cold wind blow inside. So on this particular occasion, the student with the potty urge was denied access. Upon coming through the door a loud, stern voice sent a command to turn right around and head back outside.
After pleading his case, after begging to be able to use the bathroom, the student was given an ultimatum of going back outside or getting privileges taken away. Actually, the privileges would be taken away no matter what if he didn’t leave immediately. How long it took him to leave would determine how many privileges would be taken away.
But the kid had to go pee really bad. She didn’t care. He couldn’t hold it any longer.
I have a hard time deciding what was the worst part of that experience. First of all, there was the puddle on the floor that all of my classmates would see as then came inside from recess. Next, they would know it was me because there I was in wet pants. Third, I knew when the teacher saw the mess I would be dead meat. What is a boy to do?
Well, she told me to go back outside…so I did. Wet pants in below freezing weather. A playground full of kids that would for sure notice my pants. It was really enjoyable. NOT!!!
At the end of the playground was an undeveloped field. On the other side of the field was a park. Through the park and across the street was a church. And behind that church was my house. I ran.
I cried the whole way home.
When I got home I told my mom what had happened. I changed my clothes into something dry. I drank some hot chocolate. And then I was taken back to school. I don’t remember if my mom talked with the teacher or not. All I remember is that I didn’t want to be in her class any more. She was a mean lady in my mind and she didn’t like me at all.
I was six years old. I was scared.
Tomorrow my youngest goes off to start the first grade. She too is six years old. But she is blessed. Mrs. Johnson retired a long time ago. She might even be dead.
Starting a new school year can be a scary experience for kids. Whether it is because they are changing schools or because they are going to have a teacher that they have never met, a new school year can cause a bit of anxiety. Add to that the pressure that parents put on their children to do their best in class, to pay attention, to get all homework done, etc. It is a surprise at times that we don’t have kids experiencing panic attacks more often.
So what can I as a parent do to help my child have a better experience than me? Well, gratefully the teachers are more considerate, patient, and understanding at the elementary school that my kids go to. But I can also help my daughter to learn to be more cognizant of what is going on with her…in all aspects. If we teach our kids to be responsible for themselves, they will have more success than I had on that cold winter day. Walking home with frozen pants isn’t fun.
I don’t want my daughter to do that.
Kids, there are 180 school days in the year. I am sure that more than one of them will be a little bit scary. Go forward and conquer it.
Parents, there are 180 school days in the year and you won’t be able to watch your child and protect them every minute that they are at school. Some days will be a little bit scary. Teach your child correctly, trust them to make correct decisions, and let everything else fall into place on its own.
And if you are a teacher, please let the child that is about to look control of his bodily functions use the bathroom. It will save a mess on the floor and in their clothes, it will save the child from teasing, ridiculing, and over all feeling bad. Most of all, it will save that child’s dignity. And we all know how important that can be.
Just another view from a Palmtree.