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

TITLE: Chalk dust and tear drops
By Bronwyn Johnson


I couldn’t help but feel a lump build in my throat as I watched her walk into the classroom for the first time. She seemed so lost among all those little people with knobbly knees protruding from backpacks that were designed for people twice their size. The smell of stale chalk dust, fresh paint and hardened gum overwhelmed me as I followed the children into the room. Brightly coloured bulletin boards decorated the walls. Annie the Antelope grinned her lopsided smile from the wall next to Bernard the Buffalo as both waited to become the alphabet hero’s to a new intake of eager learners.

I looked back toward the door in time to see a herd of parents waving their final farewell to their little children. They were going through the motions, doing the best they could to let their precious ones go. Quick last-minute hugs turned into warm embraces of love as they clung together for as long as they could. Eventually they let their children go and blew kisses as they walked away. I don’t know which looked more nervous, the parents or the children. “Be a good boy!” shouted a father a little too cheerfully, “School is fun!” A small dark haired boy turned back to look at his dad but tears filled his eyes and blurred his view. He shut them tight and pulled his little hands into fists as he desperately willed the tears away. His mouth was quivering as he squeezed his lips together in thin pink lines. I could hear his thoughts, “I must not cry. I am a big boy now. I’m not a baby.” My heart went out to him and I softly placed my hand on his shoulder. As is the way of all children, he was open to my comfort and drew strength from my love even though he could not see me.

The first day of school is always a traumatic experience. The excitement of wearing a new outfit, carrying a new school bag with nothing but a lunch box filled with goodies, lovingly prepared by mom, soon wore off as fear of the unknown set in.

No one knows what God has in store for these little souls that he created. Each one is unique and he has a special purpose for them all. Every day is the first day in the school of life. These children need all the preparation they can get if they are to survive in the world. Experience is the hardest teacher because first you get the test and then you get the lesson. They were on the threshold of learning the tools that will enable them to make it through the tests in life.

Bright eyes stared ahead to an unpredictable future, like little empty canvasses eagerly waiting for the artist’s first brush stroke.

It was not my first “first day of school”. I have been here in this classroom many times. Today I was here for her. She needed my comfort and my guidance because today was the beginning of a whole new chapter in her life and I was here to help her. She looked around the room with a wide-eyed expression of terror and I said a silent prayer to give her courage. She did not even know that I was in the room. Although I have loved her all her life, she does not know her guardian angel. I moved toward her and embraced her gently as the door closed and the children settled into their small chairs. After a brief shuffling of feet and scraping of chairs the room fell silent.

She smiled.

“Good morning children,” she said gently, “I am your new teacher. Today we begin an exciting adventure together.”

Member Comments
Member Date
L.M. Lee07/05/04
taking it from a different perspective...nice.
Sylvia Spielman07/05/04
From title to end -- what a nice surprise. Sylvia Bunn
Rosalind Morris07/05/04
I liked this story. :) Good job!
Martha Robinson07/07/04
What a wonderful title! And what a new twist!
Gary Sims07/08/04
Thank you for the unexpected ending - I had to go back and reread. This was very well done.
Melanie Kerr 07/09/04
We sometimes forget that first days at school can be frightening not just for new pupils but for new teachers too.