The 1st Day of 1st Grade: Through My Son’s Eyes
Seven years ago the doctor looked at the ultrasound screen and announced “It’s a boy!” and the first thought that entered my excited racing mind was “But where will I send a boy to school?”
I was an expert on girls. I had four of them! I knew where to send them to nursery school, kindergarten, and elementary school. But a boy? What was I going to do with a boy?
So after Yoel was born, step by step we figured things out… We made a bris. We made an upsherin. He went to the local cheider for nursery school and kindergarten. But the school? That was harder to figure out, and from the time Yoel was an infant I interrogated dozens of mothers of boys to figure out the best school for our first-born son.
And after much research and debate, we finally chose a school last winter. And this summer we eagerly bought a pile of school books, a backpack with a soccer ball on it, and a green and yellow pencil case which we stuffed as full as a Thanksgiving turkey.
This past Wednesday morning I took Yoel on the bus to his first day of school, and I was at least as excited as him. And when Yoel came home that afternoon I wanted to hear every single detail of that day I had been anticipating since he was a 6-month-old fetus.
I wanted to know what the rabbi had said and what the teacher had said and what he had played during the break and whom he had played with and whether he had felt happy and comfortable or awkward and miserable…
But to all of my questions, Yoel only responded the following.
“It was fun. The rabbi told us to take something out of our pencil case today!”
And aside from the vague mention of an egg and having gone outside “but not to play soccer” I couldn’t get any more information out of him.
Fast forward a few days. Tonight I was reading Yoel’s weekly update from his rabbi, and I read the following:
“On the first day of school this Wednesday we had the ceremony to welcome the first graders to the Talmud Torah.
“The children said the letters and verses and in the end they licked honey (every child licked the first letter of his name on his own piece of paper). They ate honey cake and a piece of hardboiled egg to open their hearts to learning our holy Torah—it was an uplifting occasion.
“Afterwards all of the students of the Talmud Torah led by the 6th graders made a wonderful reception, lifting the first graders on their shoulders and dancing together with them. We were especially moved when the entire school sang “V’Zakenee.”
Funny to see.
The world through a grown-ups eyes. The ceremony and the reception and the dancing…
And the world through a child’s eyes—who shivered with excitement at the first unzipping of a new pencil case.
IY”H may that excitement of reaching into that green and yellow pencil case fill Yoel every day of school and of his life, until 120.