Parents swarmed about, each brandishing the mandatory camera, catching as many moments of this FIRST as they could. Some children stood stiffly in line, afraid to move or to even shift that new backpack. Others hopped from foot to foot, eager to start the day, the year. Down each line came the respective teacher, gently greeting the boys and girls and applying a nametag to each one. All too soon the process was completed. The bell rang. Parents stepped backward, some tripping over younger siblings in their effort to make way for the procession. Tears blurring their eyes. The lines began to stream around the corner and in the door. Then a line suddenly broke off at one child who'd become dazed and missed the movement in front of him. With a prod to his back he regained his focus. Where was the rest of the line? He raced straight ahead, aiming for the wrong door. For the old door. The door of kindergarten.
The rest of the line followed. Cattle. Lemmings. New first graders unsure of this new year of school. Someone waved and turned them around. Back to where they'd started. On around the corner and into the first grade door at last. Starting a new year. Building new habits.
This was funny to watch. And it was almost as funny to hear of third graders who, returning to their class after recess, accidentally went to their second-grade classroom. More than one of them, to more than one room. Oh, the laughter in that school. The joyful confusion of building new habits and new routines.
I'm glad for the new school year. I like the transition, the definite beginning point and a chance to start things new. Like new habits and new routines. Mine are still rough. I'm still returning to the old habits I'd like to erase. And I have to laugh and turn around to redirect my course.