I woke up this morning with an uneasy feeling in my stomach…

Then it hit me.  It’s BACK TO SCHOOL DAY. 

While it is true that it has been several…um… quite a few, okay it’s been DECADES since I let go of my mommy’s hand, lips trembling, and walked through the door of that big, scary, unknown place that was my Kindergarten room at GEORGE WASHINGTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL in Kenmore, New York, sometimes it feels like yesterday. 

I think going back to school is daunting for even the most “I’m-So-Cool-This-So-Doesn’t-Phase-Me” high schoolers,  – but it’s probably the hardest for kids in elementary school. 

I mean one day you’re outside playing “kick the can” (or these days, video games) with the kids in the neighborhood, and the next thing you know you’re Mom is waking you up with the dreaded words, “Hurry… you don’t want to be late for your first day!” (I don’t???)

To borrow a phrase from “Apocalypse Now”, “The Horror!  The Horror!” 

For me… the worst was 3rd grade – the year it seems to me you move from little kid to “upperclassmen” in the Grammar School world.  Armed with nothing more that a few pencils, a spiral notebook, and some glue, I entered Room #304 and was left to fend for myself.  There were some familiar faces – kids I’d been in the same class with the year before – and that brought me some comfort.  Even seeing my 2nd grade nemesis, Eddie Chamberlain, sitting there made me feel better… familiarity is highly underrated. 

And then, my worst fears came true!  There she stood, in the front of the class.  Miss Emminger!!  The teacher I had heard rumors of all summer long…  “She’s mean…She gives more homework than any other teacher in history…She hates kids!”  I could see this was going to be the worst year of my ENTIRE LIFE.  I was at the mercy of Hitler in a dress!  

Of course a few days later, all the fear was gone.  I had my friends, my routine, I had rediscovered with joy the smell of the freshly varnished gym floor.  And don’t get me started on that school paste.   Who doesn’t remember the scent (or the taste, for that matter!)   But most importantly, as the days went on, I realized that Miss Emminger was tough, but she wasn’t the anti-Christ after all. 

Having seen my six daughters through their elementary school years and beyond and now seeing my daughters own kids going through the same thing – brings back incredible memories.   

So to all you kids out there – I promise you this:  As tough and emotional as today may be, it could be worse.  Look at the bright side… you’ve only got YEARS and YEARS of “the first day of school” ahead of you!


- Dick

P.S. Thanks for all the kinds words about seeing my daughter, JoAnne, and me on the Jerry Lewis MDA telethon.  It was an honor to be there and thanks to the generosity of Metro-Detroiters we raised over 1.5 million dollars!