99: First Day Jitters

99: First Day Jitters

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teacher Tales

First Day Jitters

Mighty things from small beginnings grow.

~John Dryden

I wake with no need for an alarm. I don’t need one; it’s the first day of school. I spring from my bed and head straight into the bathroom with such excitement, trying to decide whether to wear the pink blouse with my Old Navy fitted grey pants or the black cotton, three-quarter sleeve top with the white capris.

I turn on the shower and let the warm water run from the top of my head, down my shoulders and soak my toes before deciding on the white capris with the black cotton shirt. “Black is grown up,” I tell myself. “It looks serious but subdued,” and after all, how much longer will I be able to wear white capris with September lurking around the corner? I towel off, get dressed and spend just a few minutes more than normal blow-drying my hair.

My lunch, packed the night before in preparation for the “big day,” even has my name on it… in bold permanent marker… the way my mother showed me! It consists of an apple, yogurt, turkey wrap, two bottles of water, three graham crackers and just in case… an orange and sourdough pretzels.

I stuff my lunch into the quilted Vera Bradley bag I bought with my sister over the summer. She bought the same style, but hers is more sedate compared to the bold red, black, blue and yellow swirly patterns on mine. She said it would look great if I wore it with my “funky chunkies,” a pet name she gave to my multi-colored, corkheeled sandals I also picked up with her on a previous shopping trip. “I guarantee all the cool kids will like them!” she promised me as we paid at the register.

Standing at my breakfast counter, I’m not so sure I should be wearing this crazy ensemble that shouts, “Look at me!” But the sensible side of my brain takes over and tells me “Too late now… it’s 7:03….” Shoving the last bit of corn muffin into my mouth, I run out the door, only to return several more times as I check and recheck that I have everything.

The cool leather upholstery in the car sends a slight shiver down my spine as I desperately try to think of something witty to impress the people with whom I will spend the next 180 days.

It’s 7:48 by the time I reach school, and already a sea of children are forming outside the familiar old brick building. Most of the kids look happy to be there… that’s a good sign! Taking a deep breath and heading straight for the crowd, my smile is tight. I don’t want the butterflies in my stomach to fly out my mouth the minute I say something. Working my way through parents, teachers and kids, I am encircled and soon everyone wants to know how I spent my summer and where I bought my capris.

Conversation is cut short, however, by the sound of the first bell. Everyone races to stand in their appropriate lines… something you can only learn by watching others over the years. Thank goodness I am not new! I race over to the third grade lines and wait for my name to be announced… suddenly all eyes are on me! As other teachers begin calling their students’ names, my line begins “the walk”… down the corridor, past the library, toward the computer room until we stop outside a friendly classroom decorated with apples and bright posters. A sign on the door reads, “WELCOME to THIRD GRADE!”

I walk toward the front of the room and watch as others scramble for a seat which will get them closer to friends, allowing them secret whispers before the teacher starts her introduction.

“Good morning,” a cheery voice says. With surprise, I recognize the voice as my own! “My name is Mrs. Benoit, and I will be your teacher this year. I look forward to our getting to know one another better.”

Minutes turn into hours and soon, in an empty classroom, erasing the day’s dusty memories from the newly painted chalkboard, I smile to myself. “They like me, they really like me!”

~Amy Benoit

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