One of the great advantages of getting older is you don’t have to endure the “first day back to school after the Christmas break” bombardment. Maybe that’s no big deal to you. But then, you’re probably way better “adjusted”—I believe that is the correct medical term—than me and Yogi and Ricky…..
I hadn’t even gotten my seat warm before Miss Carolyn asked what we did over the Christmas holidays. I figured Suzie Cozart could answer for all of us…..until I realized we were going up and down each row. EVERYBODY had to respond.
It was a test I hadn’t studied for! You can not believe the number of groundbreaking lessons a six-year-old encounters in the first grade. My heart rate shot through the roof. My eyes wouldn’t focus. Sweat was running down my back….and this was January with those old steam radiators that didn’t warm up until after lunch. I had nothing relevant or of importance to share in front of the whole class.
I cheated. After the fourteenth student in a row said, “Cut down a tree, left some cookies for Santa and opened presents”, the correct answer was coming a bit clearer in my own little mind.
But Miss Carolyn was relentless. And, apparently, she was some kind of wizard on “the first day back” activities. She moved seamlessly into the future without batting an eye.
She wanted to know what our personal resolutions were for the upcoming year. I didn’t even entertain the hope that Suzie was going to be allowed to speak for all of us…..
None of us smoked, we hadn’t lived long enough to get fat and we ran everywhere we went back in those days.
There wasn’t noting left to resolute about!
Some of the meanest girls in class stood up and said they were going to be “a better person” in 1954. Me and Yogi got to laughing so hard in disbelief that we couldn’t answer when it came our turn.
You’d think we could move on to the Blue Bird reading group but “not so fast”…. Miss Carolyn segued into predicting the future. Back around the room again, this time we had to stand up and declare what we thought would happen in the New Year.
You talk about a struggle. And completely for nothing! I understand it was only our first year in school. But do you realize how little I cared about what Ruth Ann Wiley or Vicki Fields did over the Christmas break! Most of us didn’t even dwell on what WE had done the week before.
We were six years old for goodness sakes. We didn’t analyze where we’d been. We didn’t make resolutions. We couldn’t spell “pridictions.” We played cowboys and Indians. We fought with our brothers. We threw rocks at Pet Milk cans sitting on a fence post.
We lived life to the fullest…..in the here and now!
We couldn’t see any merit to pondering over some misadventure in the distant past—which is what last week was to us—and we couldn’t grasp the need to guess at what some other fellow might or might not do in the foreseeable future.
Elementary school interrupted our “here and now” attitude.
But you talk about adapting, learning and growing! Miss Carolyn would be so proud of us. Over the next few years of the “first day back” phenomenon, our whole class matured in every facet of this meaningful and thought provoking phase of our educational process.
Buddy Wiggleton got up in the fourth grade and said he spent his Christmas vacation hand gliding over the cliffs of Dover. Pam Collins, that same break, paddled a kayak down the Cascade River in the mountains of central Washington. Phil Cook rode a bicycle along the entire Great Wall of China.
Our resolutions became a little more diverse. Betsy Dinwiddie was going to move to a Mojave Indian reservation in New Mexico and teach needle point. Marlin Hicks resolved to train his dog, Trixie, to play the piano.
Bob Edwards predicted the Edsel would make automotive history that year. Terry Harrison foresaw a Martian landing in the vacant lot beside Raymond White’s service station.
The next January Ricky had a discussion with Miss Cox that darn near turned into an argument! Rick allowed all this looking backward/looking forward was giving him mental whiplash. It was, in his opinion, a psychological nightmare. One that could scar us for years and years!
Boy howdy, that explains a lot about our class…..