First Day of School

I read that in Russia, students bring flowers to the teacher and receive balloons in return. That sounds like it could be a lot of flowers!
File-German school-boy (Heinrich Bruno Wittig), aged 7, with schultüte & schulranzen, on his first day of school, Zeulenroda, 1936.wittig-archiv.jpg 
Over in Germany, it’s been a two hundred year tradition to give young students a large paper cone or ‘Schultüte’ on the first day of school. The cone is stuffed with candy, small toys and even (!) school supplies. The photo on the left dates back to 1936. (Zeulenroda, Wittig Archiv).

That tradition was not part of my life here in Canada. I remember the mixed emotions of my first day at kindergarten. I couldn’t speak English. My mom arranged for an older girl from the neighbourhood to pick me up and deposit me at the school. I remember the other girls’ pretty dresses, but have no memory of my own. I do recall, though, that by grade one I’d become quite comfortable with Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot and Puff.  And that’s where the wedge between my double life began. There was my German immigrant family at home and my English language world of books. As I grew, so did the rift.  So I have some empathy for the issues facing new immigrants and their children starting school here in Canada.

Now-a-days, back-to-school often means a fancy licensed backpack with matching school supplies.  An expensive time for parents, especially those with several children. We live close to a school and when I see the kids walk by, holding a parent’s hand, on these first days, I get nostalgic for my own kids’ schooldays. However, my bank account appreciates the end of back-to-school.

I used to take time off work during the week of back-to-school, just to be there for any jitters or tears or happy cheers. Kids facing the world on their own.  A special time for them. A learning-to-let-go (just a little) time for parents.

Now, it’s just me and Buddy watching the foot traffic eagerly skipping by on their way to school.  Happy first day to all!

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