Too Many First Days of School

How I used to love the first day of school! I have fond memories even of those tense, excited breakfasts in elementary school when my father would tease me that my new teacher for the next grade was going to be “Mrs. Awful.”

“Really, Daddy?”

“Yes, and I hear she’s awful.”

Quivering lips and plaintive glances at my mom who’d remind me that it was only, after all, Ms. Pogue.

I remember great new outfits in red, yellow, and blue, with new knee socks, and heading off to school with a new lunchbox.

And I remember, years later, poring over Seventeen magazine in search of just the right plaid jumper for a cute new back-to-school look and having my mom help me put pennies in my new loafers.

Part of becoming a teacher, I’m sure, has to do with my fondness for this rhythm of the year, this sense of September beginnings, of autumn promise.

But this year, there are just too many first days. Instead of feeling like a fond old hand, I’m just a nervous little kid, each new day turning my stomach upside down again.

Yesterday was the first day of school at NYU, where my husband teaches. It was also my first day of the practicum for new graduate student teachers, a course that I’ll be taking over for at least part of the semester while a colleague is on personal leave.

Today is the first day of school at Fordham, where I teach. My classes don’t meet today, but I have to head out soon to hold the orientation meeting for the new adjuncts who’re just starting out.

Tomorrow is my daughter’s first day of kindergarten!

And Friday is my actual first day of teaching my own classes.

You can wipe me up from the floor on Friday afternoon.