I remember the first first day like it was ... well ... yesterday.
On the first first day, my daughter wore a red dress with a white collar and smocking at the top. She had on black patent leather Mary Janes and ankle socks with frilly trim. She had a lunchbox, a tiny backpack, and a fleece jacket with an appliqued dachshund head on one side, tail on the other, and elongated body stretching around the back. The zipper pull was a quilted bone. Her hair was perfect.
Oddly enough, I remember what I was wearing too. Black wool trousers and boots, plus a very cool sweater that was black and tan and white with asymmetrical wooden buttons and a sort of primitive fish pattern. I got it from some museum catalog and it was cooler than it sounds, really. Anyway, I don't know where it went. (Besides out of style, I suppose.) Meanwhile, my daughter's dress is carefully preserved in an attic closet waiting for some future child's first day of preschool.
I repeat, "First day of preschool." It feels like yesterday. But, at the same time, no matter how well I remember every little detail, it feels about a hundred years ago.
Sundance Preschool was in a brand new building about a mile or so from our house. It was bright and sunny with large classrooms and a playground out back. My daughter was so excited. We took about a million pictures (this was back when everything was still analog, so you had to take extra shots to make sure something came out), and the whole family (minus the dog — then again, I suppose he was represented on her jacket) drove over together.
I was just fine, happy even, imagining how my little daughter would love school the way I had. The future seemed bright and full of promise. We had years and years together ahead of us. We checked her in and went into her classroom. There were lilliputian tables and chairs, a reading corner, easels and paint, tiny cubbies ... and a coat hook with each child's name neatly printed above it.
That, my friends, is when I lost it.
My daughter would probably tell you that I've been losing it on a quite regular basis ever since.
This morning was that same daughter's first day of senior year. All I can say, truly, is ...
How is this possible? How can she be that old? (How can I be that old?)
She woke up at 5:00 am. (Yeah, like that's going to happen again this year!) She wore her senior "We're Kind of a B16 Deal" tee and a pair of shorts. I packed a nice lunch for her and after a little (a very little) attention to hair and makeup, we took a couple of quick "First Day" pictures and she was out of here. No need for breakfast; she and her BFFs were going to IHOP after the official first day senior drive-by.
Each graduating class of our town's high school takes part in this time-honored tradition twice. (I think it's just twice; I hope it's just twice.) The junior girls drive through the town honking and screaming the morning after the prior class's graduation. And those same girls, now officially seniors, do it all again the first day back at school in September.
My husband decorated our antique red Miata with racing stripes and a big number "16" on the driver door. It was by far the flashiest vehicle out there. But, as I videotaped the convoy this morning, I was happy to notice that my daughter and her bestie stayed belted in their seats even as they raced through the town. Whether that was fear of me or of the town police, I'll never know. But, I was glad on't.
Next on the agenda is the gauntlet outside the school. Historically, the seniors have taunted the incoming underclassmen and women. This year, however, our rules-happy principal ordained that there is to be no teasing and no touching — excepting "handshakes extended in the spirit of friendship and warm welcome."
(Excuse me while I go choke to death on laughter.)
(All right, I'm back now.)
Classes for seniors don't start until mid-morning, so my offspring and her posse will have time for a nutritious breakfast at the International House of Pancakes (is there a National House of Pancakes?) before their day — and presumably their education — starts in earnest.
This morning was my daughter's last first day. She and the other seniors only have 20-minute classes along with forms to fill out and an assembly, so the day should fly by for her.
Almost as fast as the last 15 years have flown by for me.
If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my book Lovin' the Alien at www.lovinthealien.com.