Starting school is always harrowing for child and parent. For the child, he/she is separated from the security of the home environment and the parent. For the parent: there is the concern how will the child cope with a stranger in charge and surrounded by other children. Today, most children are enrolled in childcare, then kindergarten or preschool. They can start school well-adjusted socially and knowing school protocol and basic knowledge of the alphabet, shapes, colours, and numbers.
MY FIRST DAY
My first day, so long ago, I was so excited to be going to school. I had lived in the bush, isolated for other children. Kindergartens were for the cities and the rich. I was not prepared for school as children are today. Mum had made me some new dresses and all I could think of was my new dress. I remember it was so hot, no air-conditioning in those days, my hands were so sweaty and I left black marks over my books, this was embarrassing.
I really wanted to please my mother and show her I was a smart kid. I had such high hopes of doing well. When I arrived home I regaled Mum with my successes all she said was, ‘Hmm! You’ll be just like the others.’ Meaning, I will be like my older siblings, a disappointment to her academically. Her words stayed with me and influenced me for the rest of my primary school days. I accepted I would fail. Some subjects I gave up on totally and others I managed to get top marks. School became a chore, a burden I had to face every day.
HIS FIRST DAY
Before Bruce started school, he was practically free to do whatever he wanted. Starting school curbed his freedom, and he felt hemmed in on all sides.
‘You must not talk,’ the teacher spoke sharply to the six-year-old Bruce.
There were laws saying how long he could play; laws saying, ‘Sit still.’ Worst of all there was the law, ‘You mustn’t talk.’ The young Bruce was a chatterbox. He loved to ask questions, discover all he could. The little boy chaffed at the restrictions and disciplines
‘What shall I do with him,’ the teacher was at her wit’s end. ‘I’ve tried everything to keep him quiet.’ She looked at her pupil, ‘He has broken the rules and ought to be punished.’ So she brought out the cane and applied a mild punishment.
The little boy wept and cried and flooded the school room with tears. The teacher tried everything to pacify him, but the heartbroken sobbing continued. Eventually, the teacher took him on her knee and hugged him until the sobbing stopped. Bruce had failed to keep the laws and punishment was exacted, but love took him on her knee and restored his peace of mind.
The Bible refers to the ten commandments as being a school master, ‘The Jewish laws were our teacher and guide until Christ came to give us right standing with God through our faith. But now that Christ has come we don’t need those laws any longer to guard us and lead us to him. For now we are all the children of God through faith in Jesus Christ.’ Galatians 3:24 – 26 LB.
‘That is the way it was before Christ came. We were slaves to Jewish laws and rituals because we thought they could save us. But when the right time came, the time God decided on, he sent his Sn, born of a woman, born as a Jew, to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law so that he could adopt us us as his very own sons. and because we are his very own sons God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, so now we can now speak of God as our dear Father.’Galatians 4: 3 – 6, LB.
In effect, the Father took us on his knee and loved us. We wouldn’t be judged again for not keeping the laws if we believed Jesus to be our saviour. Jesus has covered us with his goodness; He turned our tears of sorrow at our plight into tears joy. We can believe the scripture as translated in the Living Bible, ‘ The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to be king over all but all who will take God’s gift of forgiveness and acquittal are kings of life because of this one man, Jesus Christ.’
Bruce did well at school though he never stopped talking. He became a preacher. Me? I became a writer. I loved words, I would make stories up about words and the pictures they conjured up in my mind. I was always laughed at for the ‘big words’ I used. Try as I would to change my speech these words insisted on rolling off my tongue. They still do – that is – off my pen.