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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

My First Day Of School--A 6-year-old's Worst Nightmare by Laurean Brooks

How was your first day of school? When I was a child, kindergarten had not been instituted in Tennessee. School started in late August, and our family had moved to Palmersville from Memphis, in June. We were strangers in a rural town, you might say.

Register Day fell on the Friday before school officially began the following Monday. I was a tow-headed child, small for my age. The morning of Register Day, Mama bustled around getting breakfast in the tiny kitchen in our large clapboard farmhouse, which set on a hill. We didn't know what time the school bus would show up, but apparently, Mr. Zack McClure had been told to stop at our house.

We were just finishing breakfast when a loud Honk! Honk! alerted us. Johnny yelled, “The school bus is here!” Johnny, Ralph, Jewell, and I grabbed up our book satchels and raced down the hill where the yellow bus screeched to a halt. I was the youngest and smallest. I couldn't catch up to the others. My brothers and sisters were boarding the bus when Mama hollered from the porch, “Laurie! You forgot your sweater.”

I stopped in my tracks and turned to look. My mother stood on the porch waving my white sweater like a surrender flag. While I dashed back to retrieve it, Mr. Zack geared up and roared off without me.

I began to cry, inconsolably. I had missed the bus on my first day of school. I would be branded for the rest of my life as the girl who missed school on the very first day. Worse, only a month before, my yellow kitten had disappeared. Could things get any worse?

Mama tried to cheer me up, but it was no use. I kept crying We had a car, but Mama had not learned to drive. She couldn't take me the three miles to school. Finally, she said, “Let's pay Mrs. Mitchell a visit.” Pat Mitchell lived on the highway, but we always took the short cut through the pasture behind our house to reach her back door.

Mama grabbed my little brother's hand and we trekked through the pasture sidestepping any...evidence the cows had left. While Mama knocked on the door and waited for Mrs. Mitchell to answer, a small yellow kitten came out from beneath her house. It was so beat-up I didn't recognize it. I picked up the battered little thing and consoled it, squealing when I realized it was my lost kitten.

I was more excited when Mrs. Mitchell said I could take it home with me. While Mama and Mrs. Mitchell talked inside, I played with the kitten on her carport.

Monday morning rolled around again. I determined I would not miss the bus again. Mama handed me my sweater and my birth certificate with the instructions, “Whatever you do, don't lose this paper.” I climbed on the bus, on the heels of my siblings, keeping a death grip on the birth certificate. I didn't know the significance of the paper, only that they wouldn't let me go to school without first seeing it.

Dozens of kids were playing chase or tag in the schoolyard when my sister led me to the First Grade classroom. She left me alone with a blue-haired elderly lady who introduced herself as, “Miss Ayely.

Miss Ayely instructed me to stand next to her desk while the other children took their seats. Then she proceeded to interrogate me. Twenty sets of eyes stared back. “What is your name, child?”

I answered “Laurie,” but it came out as, “Wau-wee” since I couldn't pronounce my “rs.” She must have asked me a dozen times to repeat it. I became more embarrassed by the second.

Miss Ayley had almost despaired when a high school girl pranced into the room to deliver a paper. Miss Ayley stopped her as she was leaving. “Janice, can you understand what this child is saying? I've asked her a dozen times to tell me her name, and I can't make it out.” Then she whispered, to Janice. “Look how small she is. I'll bet she's no more than four years old. And to think, her mother sent her to school?”
I wanted to argue that, “I was too, old enough to be in school,” but the cat got my tongue. Janice smiled sweetly down at me then and leaned over close to my face. “Tell me your name, Sweetie?”

“Wau-wee,” I repeated for the umpteenth time.

She asked me to repeat it again. I did. Then she pointed to my hand. “Look, Miss Ayely. She's holding something. Let's see what it is.”

I handed over the birth certificate as she requested. Both Janice and Miss Ayely read it. Miss Ayely gasped, “Oh... Her name is Laurie.”

I wanted to yell, "That's what I said, a dozen times." I held my tongue. Or rather, the cat did.

Then Janice checked my birth date and exclaimed, She is six years old. Can you believe it?”

I survived the embarrassing experience and all was well. But it may explain my present-day fear of speaking in front of a crowd.

So, tell us about your first day of school. I hope it went better than mine.
Amanda Wilkes is devastated when her unfaithful husband is killed in his sports cart alongside his young secretary. But discovered he's left her a mountain of debt plus gambled away their home is the shocking news that nearly destroys her. She vows to never trust her heart again.

Attorney Jake Tyler is attracted to his new secretary. Something about her brings out his protective side out. her. But, he has vowed to never marry again, following the death of his wife during a simple medical procedure gone wrong. Can Jake's young son bring his Dad and Amanda together and help them learn to trust their hearts?


  1. Oh, dear. That account of first grade sounds traumatic. Luckily, Pennsylvania required that a parent had to accompany and register a child for school. I was the first group of first graders where two classrooms were necessary, and two different teachers each taught our class for half a year and then switched rooms. However, I remember our one teacher used a ruler to whack students on the knuckles as punishment. I was deathly afraid of stepping out of line--but loved my second grade teacher who was much more student friendly and taught us about animals and nature. Don't you wonder why fear was used so frequently back then?

  2. Oh, that's awful! So sad to have to go through that. We didn't need to present a birth certificate so reading that you did was news to me. I was five when I went to school and had no idea that you couldn't get up and walk around or eat your lunch any ol' time you wanted - just like at home. LOL

  3. Judy Ann, thank you for commenting. My first grade teacher was never mean to me, but she was to some of the other children. I remember one little girl was often late to school because her mother overslept. Debbie was made to stand in front of the class while the rest of us stood and repeated, "A Diller, a Dollar, a 10 o'clock scholar, what makes you come so soon? You used to come at 10 o'clock, but now you come at noon." And when one overweight little girl wet on herself before she made it to the restroom, Miss Ayley shamed her in front of the class by saying, "Fatty, fatty, two by four, couldn't get through the bathroom door. So she wet on the floor.

    That was cruel. I remember both little girls crying and hiding their faces. My fifth-grade teacher was the one who wielded a plastic ruler on our hands for talking or giggling. I got it twice. Besides that, she was kind-hearted, and the reason I'm a writer today.

  4. Miss Mae, I guess every state or county has different rules about proof of age on entering school. But then, parents or another adult takes their first grader to school these days, to register them. I didn't have a problem not getting up. I was so shy, I wanted to hide under my desk. Lol. On the other hand, with your energetic personality, I can see you getting in trouble by running around all over the classroom. Lol again.

  5. Great emotional story. I don't think teachers could get away with humiliating a child like that in today's world. At least I hope she couldn't. That was completely uncalled for.

    1. I agree, Joan. This was emotional abuse. I always felt bad about it when I was made to participate in the hurtful nursery rhymes.

  6. Laurean, wonderful story. Very touching. My family moved a lot during my childhood, and I attended a Taiwanese kindergarten but not for long. When I realized they were giving out injections and knew I'd already had mine, I screamed the place down. Then I lost my underwear in their squatty potty. I was transferred to the missionary school, but decided to ride the bus home with another child, and my parents were frantic. I did not complete kindergarten. Then we moved to Tennessee...


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