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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: First Day of School (06/28/04)

TITLE: 19 First Days of School
By Kay Brown


I lived through 19 first days of school. One time I actually counted them. Amazingly, I still love readin’, writin’ and…well, I love reading and writing anyway. You can’t have it all, can you? Being the new girl at school, however, was only horrible most of the time.

The only thing that helped me survive through all these first days of school was the fact that most of the other kids were new, too. We all moved a lot because our Dads were in the service, so everyone came from somewhere else. It helped a little that we were assorted colors, too. Everybody was different.

The Amobleys were dreadfully different. The year I started kindergarten, Bobby Amobley and his snotty big brother completely dismantled our brand-new swing set while we were gone on vacation. We were devastated; it was not funny at the time, but it is hilarious, now. All of the shiny nuts, bolts and parts were scattered on the lawn and the tools they used, which were ours, were still laying in the middle of the mess. I can still remember hurrying out to hear my dad’s roars. It was exciting!

Unfortunately, the Amobleys had moved to Europe while we were away. Darn.

That sort of thing happened a lot. We were professionals at clearing quarters and moving, but it was never fun. That same year, at the age of five, I clearly remember fuming to a friend, “Yeah, we have to move in two weeks. Can you believe it? I just got all my friends and now we have to move. I’m gonna talk to the U.S. Army about this one!”

The U.S. Army did not care.

One of the first things I always did at a new school was to make friends with ‘the Kathy’ in my class. There was always a Kathy. Life was simple when I could become best friends with a girl who had my prior best friend’s name. Luckily, Kathys were generally happy, friendly and knew their way around. Those are very useful qualities to find in a best friend, if you are the new girl.

In the sixth grade, one of my Kathys and I decided to compete in the school’s talent contest. Laboriously, we choreographed an obnoxious go go routine to, “Indian Lake,” by the Cowsills. Neither of us had ever danced before and it showed. I shudder when I hear that song today because it reminds me how pitifully uncoordinated our efforts were. We practiced for months on our dance and it just never got any better. God knew what fools we were going to make of ourselves, so He lovingly orchestrated a crisis in world affairs on the other side of the globe. Suddenly, right before the talent show, my dad was transferred overseas.

Mom could not understand why it all had to be so sudden, but I knew: it was God’s incredible timing to prevent me from disgracing myself and dishonoring the family name. The Lord does things like that all the time; you just have to be paying attention to catch Him in the act. The older I get, the more I realize a lot of what we call, ‘coincidence,’ really is not. Disasters always have a purpose.

It takes a while to figure out that God knows exactly what He’s doing. Arranging everything around us for our good and His glory is some of His best work. Even what others mean for evil, He plans to use for good. What seems to be aggravation in our eyes is simply opportunity in His. Opportunities to seek Him, to hear Him and to trust Him are exactly what we usually call inconvenience.

Like having 19 first days of school.

Member Comments
Member Date
Corinne Smelker 07/05/04
Funny all the way through, but poignant too.

Loved the fact that you always found a Kathy to befriend!
L.M. Lee07/05/04
Tell your dad thanks for serving! Sorry you had to endure 19 new days!

I think about all the military families that share your experience now!
Lynda Lee Schab 07/06/04
Kay, another great essay! Wonderful story-telling, kept me smiling the whole way through. Good job!
Blessings, Lynda Schab
Martha Robinson07/06/04
I, too, was an Air Force "brat". Thanks for reminding me of how it was to know as you made new friends that before long you would be saying good-bye.
Mary Elder-Criss07/07/04
"God knew what fools we were going to make of ourselves, so He lovingly orchestrated a crisis in world affairs on the other side of the globe."

Loved it. Humorous, yet reflects an important message of how God can use evil for good. Thanks for sharing.
Melanie Kerr 07/08/04
I teach in a school that has a third of its pupils from army families. I never thought about seeing it from their perspective. I liked your idea of finding a Kathy each time. That was really well written and entertaining.*
Theresa Knight07/09/04
Great point of view! Very enjoyable.
Linda Germain 07/11/04
I can empathize.My first- day- as- new girl times number 12. It seemed unfair then, but now I am so thankful for all the ones I met whose paths I would never have crossed. I love the Kathy part! Good story telling. :0)