1st Grade or College, Tears Flow Naturally (Dedicated to parents of school children)
by James Reza    Thu, Aug 30, 2012, 02:46 pm

I recently talk to a dear friend whose voice sounded shaken.  Seems that her daughter was leaving to go to college and neither her nor her husband could come to grips with their daughter being away from home.  As I tried to console her it dawned on me that for some parents who are attached to their kids, find it difficult to see their kids leaving them, especially if they’ve never been away from home.

After I hung up with my friend, I remembered my first day in school, a day I will never forget!  I cried my lungs out as mom — bless her heart — tried everything possible to make my first day in school a pleasant one. I was especially frightened of Sister Benigna, my first-grade teacher at San Jose Catholic School.  Back then (in the late 40s), the attire of the Sisters of St. Mary of Numur, was something that would make any kid’s knees buckle.  However, after a few weeks, she dispelled my fears with her gentle, yet stern discipline.

After trying several methods of comforting and alleviating my fear of school on that first day, mom asked Sister Benigna if she would allow my younger sister, Cecilia, to sit with me in class for a week until I got used to being in school.  She agreed.  Well, with Cecilia sitting next to me in class, I changed my attitude, forgot my fears and went on about the business of school.  Though my sister was a year younger than me and was supposed to be in school for only one week, Sister Benigna allowed her to stay.  The both of us graduated from high school in 1956.  My sister can thank my unrelenting tears in first grade for her early graduation.

Of my three kids, only one of them cried on their first day in school.  It was my middle child, Michele.  Just like my mom, I tried everything in the world to make her first day in school a pleasant one.  Nothing worked.  My son, Larry, who is older, was already in middle school when she started the first grade and wasn’t there to help her with her fear of school. I still remember the pain I felt in my heart when I left Michele crying aloud as she was held back by her teacher.  Her sobs and shouts, “Daddy! Daddy!  Please don’t leave me,” echoed through the school hallway and broke my heart. I remember that I cried all the way to work, thinking of her.  I knew then how mom must have felt when she heard my cries on my first day of school.  That evening, I asked my wife to quit her job or take some time off to be with Michele in hr first class until the youngster was used to it.  My wife’s boss gave her some time off, and in a few days everything was all right.  But Michele never grew to really like school.
On the other hand, my youngest daughter, Cecilia, was the opposite.  She was very active and in high school was elected as a cheerleader for four straight years.  As a senior, she was elected class favorite and homecoming queen that year. To be honest with you, my wife and I never thought that her high school’s predominately white student body and teachers would choose our brown and beautiful daughter as homecoming queen. That goes to show you how much we knew about our daughter’s personality and her friends at school.

However, her school activities didn’t come without some discomfort to us.  Her friends and involvements almost drove my wife and me to the point of running away from home.  You parents know what I’m talking about.  Yes, that darn telephone (before cell phones came along)!  Throughout the week, after school, late at night and especially on the weekends — that telephone rang constantly.  My wife and I didn’t even want to answer it because we knew it wasn’t going to be for us.  Or, if we did, we just said, “She’s not here.  Do you want to leave a message?”  After a while that got real old with us.

One time, the phone must have rung at 3 a.m.  “Is Cecilia home?” asked some young boy.  “Sure,” I said angrily.  “But try calling at a decent time like the year 2025.”  After that I asked him for his dad’s name and phone number and told him I was going to call his dad at 3 o’clock and ask to talk to his son.  Funny, he never bothered us again.

After Cecilia graduated from high school she decided to attend TWU in Denton to embark on her nursing career. I remember my wife and I driving her to the university and helped her take some items for her room at the dorm. After we got her things in the room, she walked back to my pickup with us.  This was the first time our daughter had ever been away from home. As I drove away, I could see her in the rear-view mirror.  Though I held back my tears, I wanted to stop and shout at her, like I shouted at my mom so many years ago:  “Please don’t leave us!  We won’t even care what time your friends call you.”

Today, my wife and I, and yes, even Cecilia, are again going through the same school process we went through with our grandkids!


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written by George L. Warner , August 31, 2012

Love it, James. Keep writing.

George Warner
Fredericksburg, VA

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