500 Words: How We Met
I’d never been to preschool, there was no such thing as Orientation Day and what was a ‘teacher’?
Not the best preparation for the start of school, but that’s how things were for me many years ago.
After a lovely walk holding onto my brother’s stroller as mum guided us along the footpaths and across the roads, we had arrived at the local primary school – which, of course, I had never set foot in before!
The school was huge, a large brick building with large playgrounds, both bitumen and grass. There were toilet blocks and wash rooms, portable buildings and verandas.
My classroom was on the first floor of a long, skinny building. We climbed the stairs and were pointed in the direction of the end room.
The kindergarten area was large – a double room really with lots of toys. There were trucks and blocks. In a corner were dolls with little cots and clothes hung from miniature clothes rails. We could see books, tables and chairs, paper and coloured pencils.
And there were lots of children! Boys and girls about my age.
There were mums and younger siblings, the odd grandparent or two and even a couple of fathers. The huge room was filled with new students and lots of hangers-on!
Things seemed to be going pretty well. Some of the mums were leaving quietly. I was having a lovely time until the wailing started. Other mothers were trying to leave but their children were wrapped around their legs, screaming and sobbing.
When I realised that my mother was going to have to leave, too, I started blubbering. I latched onto my mother and buried my head in her side.
Then, a sound. A couple of short, sharp claps. An older lady who looked like someone’s grandmother stood in the middle of the room, gently demanding our attention.
She had her hair in bun and wore lipstick. Her clothes were very formal, a tweed skirt, tailored shirt and pearls. Her black leather pumps were shiny with sensible heels.
I had never met this woman before, yet she had my complete attention. She introduced herself as the teacher and welcomed us to her class. She told us we would have lots of fun, learn many new things and make lots of new friends. Her voice was warm and kind. She had a twinkle in her eye and a friendly face. I felt safe in her presence.
Our teacher encouraged our parents to stay for as long as was necessary.
Eventually, my mother did leave and I faced the rest of my first day in kindergarten on my own.
My first year of schooling was a very happy and productive one. I had lots of fun, learnt many new things and made new friends.
My first teacher had a big impact on my life and I will always remember, with fondness, the lovely lady I had met for the first time on that very first day.