Friday, August 10, 2007

Ok - here's my trauma story.

Since Jeff asked so nicely, I'll impart my horror story of the first day of school. Technically speaking, it wasn't my first day of school - as I'd gone to school in Wales - however, it WAS my first day of school in a foreign country, without my siblings being there.

As several of you know (and fewer of you care) - I spent several of my formative years (from 6-11) in Malaysia. As you may also know, I was a VERY blonde kid - white blond, almost. In the Far East, it is considered extremely lucky for you to meet someone with "gold" hair - and people would invariably want to take their picture with me, touch my hair or (usually) do both. Sometimes they actually pulled OUT a hair or two. As you could imagine, this drove me BUGNUTS and I really hated the attention. I'm in thousands of Asian families' photo albums - weird, huh?

Anyway - as it turned out, the school that my brother and sister were going into either did not have any room for my age, or they didn't start at my age (I forget which) - so I had to go to an alternate school for a year. I was enrolled in something called Garden School.

On my first day of school, we dropped my brother and sister off first, then drove to the Garden School. We pulled up -and I vividly remember this as if it were yesterday - I opened the back door of the car and looked out onto a veritable sea of Chinese and Malay faces. Every single one of them with jet black hair, brown or yellow skin - not another white kid in sight (or, as it turned out, in the entire school!) I was literally going to stand out like a sore thumb. It seemed like they were all staring at the new freaky kid.

Well, I lost it. Tears, screaming, death grip on the driver's seat supports as I was huddled in the foot-well of the back seat. Mum and Dad had to pry me out of there. To add insult to injury, the school also didn't know where to put me - so the first couple of days, I was in the kindergarden class. At least there, I could sit in the back (because otherwise I would have blocked the other kids view of the teacher!)

Even though I ended up liking the school - the first day freak-out has stayed with me to this day. Every first day I've had since then - middle school, high school, college, work - has been easy in comparison.

What sticks out the most for me is the memory of the sheer, stark terror in my mind - that I was going to be LEFT there, with all these foreign kids - ALL ALONE, with no-one like me, etc etc. Panic does not even begin to describe it, hence the word terror. I vowed to never put my kids into that same situation - to avoid them having that same level of panic associated with their first day of school. I feel that I failed Owen in this - even though it may not have been as traumatic for him - it refreshed memories for me that are now 31 years old!

There - now you all know. Don't you feel bad for me? :-D


Melodie said...

Awww, poor Pete.

That does sound frightening for a wee one :(

Kristin said...

Is it bad that I think I'd have trouble with the situation even today? Though, I'm not sure if I'd huddle in the foot-well. (I would try.)

Poor boy. :(

Jeff Meyerson said...

Poor Higgy. Those early traumas do stay with us.

My only really early school memory was the opposite, a good one. One day I missed the school bus so our neighbor upstairs drove me to school. I got there before the bus arrived and had the entire room - and all the goodies in it - to myself.

I was a loner even at 5 so was in heaven...until they arrived.