Most people probably have some recollection of the first day of school, but few probably have as big an adventure to recall as I. Mine occurred in the city where we moved after the divorce.
My memories of the divorce are extremely vague. I remember sadness - my mother sitting on the ground and sobbing with me sitting by helpless - interminable telephone conversations when I had to wait for mother to pay attention to me - the way our dog kept going back to the country when we moved to town without my father.
My mother worked as a public health nurse. The first summer a woman stayed with my brother and me, but when school started, we were on our own. My brother was supposed to be my Great Protector and take care of me when mother wasn't home. He was ten years old.
The first day of school was to be a short day. Mother took us in the morning, and when she deposited me in my first grade classroom, she instructed me carefully that Robert would show me the way home at noon and I was to wait in the hall outside my room until he picked me up.
Well, I waited and waited, and Robert didn't show up. I began to cry, silently at first with big tears slipping out of the corners of my eyes. Then the sobs took over, and I could no longer contain my desperation. A big boy stopped to see what was the matter. By then I was almost incoherent. He took me to my teacher where they conferred together.
"He will take you home," my teacher reassured me. I had no idea about how to get there, but she must have had my address to give him. He had a bicycle and showed great skill in transporting a small girl with big eyes homeward. He even allowed me to direct him when I saw something familiar. By the time we arrived home. I was ecstatic.
I still remember how smug I felt when my mother and brother came rushing home to find me safely there. (The upper classes were released one half hour later than the kindergarten.) "I came home by myself!" I boasted. I was a big girl now.