This is my on my very first day of school. I was 5. I went to a tiny little school, a school that catered only for Years 1 and 2 (I actually love this idea, I don't think there are any around anymore, at least in Brisbane).
I remember almost nothing of my first day. I remember the afternoon though. My mother didn't have her drivers license, and she had 2 girls under 3 at home and was 7 months pregnant with my brother. So I caught the bus to and from school. On our first day, we were all given coloured round tags to pin to our uniforms to indicate which bus we were to take.
I remember it being madness at 3pm at the gates. There were buses everywhere and a couple of teacher managing hundreds of children (well, it felt like hundreds. Who knows? It probably wasn't nearly that many. There were at least 4 buses though). I remember thinking that it seems so chaotic, so disorganised. How will they possibly get it all straight. Someone is going to be put on the wrong bus.
Of course, that someone was me. That's my luck, right? Right from the word go. Having weeks prior been rescued from an attempted abduction (have I ever told that story?), my mother lost me again that day, for a few hours.
I noticed during the bus route that nothing was remotely familiar to me. I had a terrible feeling at the pit of my stomach, but was also painfully shy and polite, so I bear to bring attention to myself and stop the driver. I curled up, made myself small and stayed silent.
An hour later, the poor driver, after dropping off the last of the children, noticed he still had one left. I didn't know my address (something I made sure Alexander knew on Day 1 of Prep, even though I was driving him to school and picking him up) and wasn't able to tell him our phone number. In the end, he took me home to the bus depot. He and his wife fed me ice cream while they contacted police, who had already been contacted by my mother.
He was a lovely man, and his wife was so kind. They took wonderful care of me, and made me feel safe. It was about 5 o'clock before anyone was able to pick me up and bring me home. I don't remember being traumatised and I don't think I said much. But I do remember, funnily enough on my second day of school, biting into an apple and losing my first tooth. I remember that being the straw that broke the camel's back and I quietly cried in the office for the rest of the afternoon.
I still wonder, 30 years later, what ever happened to that teacher. Can you imagine the kind of trouble a teacher would get into for that kind of mistake now?
Not the most auspicious start to my school career. But I loved my teacher (Miss Partridge) and my best friend (who had even more ringlets than me!) Kirri-Lee and remember the blessed simplicity of those early school days.
Me just a few weeks earlier. A carbon copy (well, with longer hair) of Alexander at the same age!