28 years apart.

Tomorrow my oldest starts first grade.

I started first grade 28 years ago. Most days, I walked from my babysitter’s to my public school. There were 3 clustered classrooms in one large classroom and I spent a good portion of the day looking over at the hand washing station in front of the restrooms. It was shaped like a carousel and had automatic sensors that squirted out. I marveled at it and budgeted how many times I could visit it in the span of a school day. Our phones were still connected to cords, then, people. Also, ADD wasn’t yet a thing.

I didn’t know how to read when I started first grade. I have no memory of my writing abilities. In the afternoons, I watched She-Ra and played on my swingset. In late October of my first grade year, my family moved suburbs and I started at a Catholic school. I was among very few students who couldn’t read. I wore a uniform. The lunch attendant asked me my first day if I needed to use the lavatory. I had no idea what that was, so I said, No, and went back to my seat and wondered whether there was a wash room in the school.

1985

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My oldest will put on a school uniform for the first time tomorrow and get in our car and be dropped off right in front of her school. We will likely walk her to her classroom for as many days as she allows us. She knows almost all of her classmates as she has gone to the same school and church with most of them for the past three years. Her teacher is the same as she has had for the past three years, as well.

She can read and do simple multiplication. In the afternoons, she comes home and plays games on a laptop computer and will do compulsory reading and arithmetic lessons.

Shortly after dinner, she will ask to go outside and play on her swingset and she will get a far-off gaze in her eye and ask how many days until summer vacation again.

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  • I am sitting on my youngest’s bed, keeping him company as he packs up for college and am thinking of the day he started first grade.

    • Love it, Michelle. Hope your son remembers shower sandals. Not that I would know what it’s like to forget them…:P