Monday, April 16, 2012

Prairie Shirts, Knickers and Loneliness

As time goes by, the images lose their sharpness, the details become less exact.

But I don't forget how I felt.

I was nearing the end of 6th grade when my parents called a meeting to ask what we would think of moving to half way across the United States. My dad, a university professor, was growing weary of the politics of his department. There was uncertainty with funding, dwindling opportunities.

I was going to be moving to a new school anyway-- on to junior high. My bff had moved the year before. It sounded like an exciting adventure. I didn't tell anyone I was moving until the last day of school...the day of our 6th grade graduation.

We found a rental house not far from campus. My dad would be able to walk to his office. We only had one car now. We'd sold our prehistoric white station wagon (sans air conditioning or radio) at our garage sale..which I found hysterical.

It was in the preferred elementary school district. I was thrilled to have a corner room..with many windows, light blue walls and blue wall to wall carpet. I seperated the bunk beds and it felt like a fancy hotel to me.

Laying in bed on the eve of the first day of school, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I sobbed into my pillow.... quietly I hoped.. so my family wouldn't hear. What had I gotten myself into? Why had I thought this was a good idea?

I was scared out of my mind.

I sported my red striped prarie shirt, navy blue knickers, red knee socks and brown leather docksiders. I can see us posed in front of our red brick rental house.

Middle school was bizarro world to me. Changing classes, lockers, 3 different lunch periods, riding a bus. It was all new.

We went to 4th hour, the teacher called roll and then everyone raced to the cafeteria which was in a separate building. I had no idea what to do. I didn't know a soul. I got in the hot lunch line, secretly hiding my brown lunch sack which I held in a death grip. I wanted to disappear.

As I moved thru the line and cafeteria workers offered me different choices. I shook my head, trying to swallow the gigantic lump in my throat and pretended the tears rolling down my cheeks were due to allergies.

I followed the people in front of me like a lost dog. I'm pretty sure they didn't speak a word to me. I was too shy and intimidated to open my mouth.

The rest of that day is a blur. At home, I raced down the hallway and around the corner to the bathroom.

I puked my guts out. An appropriate ending to my first day at a new school.


It's my favorite day of the week! Time to link up with yeah write #53! Read the fabulousness and go back to vote on your favorites!

Did you ever move as a child? What are your memories of your first days?

86 comments:

Jennifer Worrell said...

I'm crying, too! I'm an elementary teacher who taught middle school for two years. GAAAAWWWWD! I must be the MOST horrific time in EVERY kids' life! Great description!

Pish Posh said...

I didn't move until I was a teen. But as an adult I moved across the country to the prairie and had a hard time adjusting!!

Jennifer - Treading Water in the Kiddie Pool said...

I was lucky enough to avoid moving but your horror story reinforces my desire to avoid doing that to my kiddos. Although, I'm sure it will be inevitable at some point. I hope the second day was better ;)

Lisa Nolan said...

Changes are hard when you are young! I was lucky, too, I grew up in the same neighborhood until college.

I bet most kids today move around a lot more!

Enjoyed reading your post, your descriptions were spot on!

Mama Finch said...

Awww...I could feel your pain as I read. I never had to move, but could still relate to the awkwardness.

Ado said...

Oh my God - so sad. I wonder why schools don't assign a buddy for a new kid at school? How terrible for you, and in middle school. Awful. Anyway - I could feel your big feelings just as if I were a sixth grader, reading this.

Jackie said...

I feel so sad for you! New school, new town, new house and everything, ugh! Middle school sucks!

Gia said...

UGH scary! Middle school is the worst, even when you're not new..

Lady Goo Goo Gaga said...

So sad that you cried quietly so nobody would hear you:(

Kimberly said...

My parents wanted to move when we were younger and that terrified me. I feel so sad for you!

a runner said...

This is heart-rending! I never moved by 5 minutes away (every 3 yrs but always only a few blocks away)...but I do remember having silent cries. Middle school was such a huge change!

jamiey writes said...

Awww... change is always uncomfortable. Everything seem so un-familiar. I feel your loneliness..

Alison@Mama Wants This said...

Aw, that must have been so hard!

Erin said...

How did it go after day one? I teach in International schools, and we deal with these transitions a lot. It might be fun for the students to hear how you coped and any advice you may have!

Cathy Morton said...

We moved into a new house when I was seven. I met the only other kid in the neighborhood and lied to her and her mother about my name. I said I was Linda. LOL Got caught pretty quickly. The "other kid" is still my best friend 53 years later.

Abby said...

My first day in 7th grade, I was having a hard time getting my locker to open. A cute boy had the locker next to mine, and he walked up to put his books away. My hand was resting on his locker. Just when I thought he might be nice to me, he yelled at me to get out of his way instead. And when he was finally done with his locker, he slammed my hand in the door. I sat in the floor and cried through most of 1st period. First days at new schools suck.

christina said...

holy crap this hit home with me. i went to three grammar schools (they didn't have middle schools where i lived) and four different high schools. we never moved far but... still. every first day at a new school was horrendous. every one of them. jesus i hate thinking back to those days- some of the worst days of my life. it steams me that my family put me through that time and time and time again. wow. maybe i'm not over it like i thought i was?? ugh. anyway. sorry you had to go thru that.

Louise Ducote said...

Oh that's terrible! Schools should be more sensitive to the pain new kids go through. I never moved as a kid but my adult moves have been traumatizing for all the usual reasons.

Karine said...

Changing school is hard. I had to do it when I was 8 y/o and it absolutely scarred me for life. Great post!

Miranda said...

Fortunately, my family never moved and so I never had to be the new kid in school. So sorry that it was such a horrifying experience!

Jenn and Casey said...

Middle school is rough. I broke out in hives my first day, and I knew all the kids!!! Great post, glad you survived ;)

Stephanie B. @B4Steph said...

Oh man, I felt it with you. Nice job of portraying that awful feeling of sadness and dread.

Julia said...

Aw, I'm so sorry! Strange how those things can stay with us.

Suzie said...

Middle school's not easy for anyone, let alone 'the new kid'. I hope the rest of the year was better.

Ben @ DadoftheDecade said...

In my entire school career, I never spent more than two years in one school. I totally would have had lunch with you once I stopped puking.

Jamie said...

I'm so grateful I never had to move as a child, I would have been a disaster.

But then part of me thinks what a wimpy thing that is to say!!

I'd love to hear about Day 2!

KimP said...

Next week you MUST share the second day. I was so excited for you!!!!

~The G is Silent

Michelle Longo said...

I can't imagine starting middle school not knowing anyone. Definitely curious to see how it went from there!

Katie @ Chicken Noodle Gravy said...

Robbie, this tore my heart out. I moved as a little girl myself, and I remember that nauseating feeling of the first day at my new school. I wish we could have been there for each other.

Beautiful, heartwrenching writing.

smushyfacebaby.com said...

oh, in the 11th grade i ate my lunch every day in the library until a very nice girl offered to let me sit at her table. i still get a lump in my throat when i remember feeling so lost and outcast - and i wasn't even in middle school! feeling for you. hope everything is going well with your current move!

Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms said...

Ugh, middle school is bad enough, but new everything!! Poor girl, but you did do a nice job conveying your angst to us. Made a great piece of writing, Erin

SouthMainMuse said...

Isn't it funny how we remember what we wore. I think I remember what I wore every first day of those high school days for sure. Good writing.

Stacey said...

I just want to give your 12 year old self a big hug!!! I moved just before 6th grade, so I get it. Unfortunately, my oldest will probably have to move at that age too. It's hard!! Love the writing though. You conveyed all those feelings perfectly.

Robbie K said...

It was horrific! In a way I wished we had moved in the middle of the school year so I would get some recognition as "the new girl". The teachers had no idea I hadn't attended the 6th grade center.

Robbie K said...

I've moved a few times as an adult too! I've had difficult adjustments and times where I've fully embraced it and LOVED the challenge of change.

Robbie K said...

I actually don't remember the second day. I'm sure at some point I started talking and eating with other people though.

Robbie K said...

Thank you for your kind words :)

We are getting ready to move and i have a son who will be starting middle school....

Robbie K said...

It was sooo awkward! I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow me so I could disappear.

Robbie K said...

I think it all depends on the classroom teacher. Pairing new kids up with a buddy would make such a difference. In my case the 6th Grade Center combined w/middle school for the first time so the teacher's really had no way of knowing I was new to the district unless they ahd read my files before the first day of school...and with 30 kids in 6 different periods I am betting they didn't!

Robbie K said...

aww thanks! I remember being completely and utterly thrilled by everything about the move until the night before the first day when I realized that I knew NO ONE.

Christine said...

Middle school is hard enough without having to move and change schools! This brought back all the anxiety and insecurities full force. I moved across country before my 8th grade year and then I moved back across the country again for boarding school for high school (my choice). So hard.

Kimberly Speranza said...

I never moved as a child but have moved my children across the country the same year I divorced their dad. The guilt that rages in my heart over that one still burns. Love this post. I felt I was there in the lunch line with you! Oh, middle school. Oh.

Kristin said...

I think that adults often discount the stress that children feel in changes like these. I grew up in the same town - which comes with it's own special stress - but I give you props for being able to handle the change of moving! Puke or no!

Youngman Brown said...

Fortunately I never moved when I was a kid.

But I did just move and start a new job. The same kind of emotions you described never fully disappear. It is never comfortable completely changing location and life situations.

Shiftless Mommie said...

School can be so frightening. Even as an adult, when I was a substitute teacher, I still felt intimidated at a new school. All it takes is one person to reach out. I hope you eventually found someone to connect with.

Tara Pohlkotte said...

i felt this with you. i still kinda feel like that in a new place. it is painful, but then it faids. what hard years those are all around!

Robbie K said...

Yeah it really sucked! I'd never had a locker, ridden a bus to and from school or changed classes 6 times a day!

Robbie K said...

i felt guilty b/c i really thought it was a fantastic idea to move...until the reality of going to a new school hit me!

Robbie K said...

It was terrifying but I am thankful for the friends I made and kept thru several moves!

Robbie K said...

Silent cries are awful aren't they??

Robbie K said...

Thanks..it was a difficult change for sure...if I;m still thinking about it 25 years later!

Robbie K said...

i as painfully shy--in case you couldn't tell--which made it that much worse!

Robbie K said...

I eventually had some ppl to hang out with and it was better than being alone but I didn't really make good friends until a few years later.

Robbie K said...

Love that you are still friends...even if you lied about your name...haha! That is one of the great things about moves..meeting new ppl!

Robbie K said...

OMG..that is HORRIBLE!! What an a$$!

Robbie K said...

That's a lot of moving and new schools. Sorry you had to go thru that!

Robbie K said...

Yes I think schools should be more sensitive to kids who move. I think so much of it depends on the individual teacher. Sorry your adult moves were difficult as well.

Robbie K said...

Things like that stay with you for good don't they?

Robbie K said...

It was awful..but I eventually made wonderful friend and really consider that place home.

Robbie K said...

hives?? sorry for your complete misery!

Robbie K said...

Thanks for your sympathy..and compliment. :)

Robbie K said...

Thanks..and you're right experiences like that stay with you.

Robbie K said...

It's funny I don't remember the rest of the year as vividly as I remember that first day.

Robbie K said...

That must have been difficult to move so often. So you're a fellow puker?

Robbie K said...

i was so excited about the move and it didn't really hit me that I wouldn't know a soul until the night before!

Maybe I will write about Day 2....

Robbie K said...

thanks :)

Robbie K said...

Thank you! That nauseating feeling never leaves does it? I would have shared a lunch table with you!

Robbie K said...

So glad she invited you to sit with her. You never forget those feelings of being alone and lost. They should teach kids to invite ppl to sit with them..so simple but means so much.

Robbie K said...

Thank you and yes I was all angsty and desperate.

Robbie K said...

Thank you. Somewhere there is a picture of me in my fabulous outfit in front of our red brick house on the corner.

Robbie K said...

Thanks for the hug..and getting me and your kind compliments.

Robbie K said...

You are so right..it is a very difficult time to move. I'm surprised you chose to move again. I would like to hear that story sometime.

Jack said...

This hits home for me. My kids are going to be moving from the school that they have called home to somewhere else and I am just crazed about it.

Julia Hunter said...

I never moved as a kid but your description of your first day at a new school totally brought me back to my first day of high school. Great writing.

BarefootMedStudent said...

This is an amazing post. So vivid! Great work. I went to a brand new school once too - took me 18 months to get settled in.
By the way, I'm just a little different: I can snap my fingers but I can't whistle!

Stopping by via SITS Sharefest

Robbie K said...

It was pretty horrific..more so because I didn't realize how horrible it would be until the night before....

Robbie K said...

Getting ready to move my kids across country and all those emotions are smacking me in the face again. Sounds like that was a very difficult year for you and your kids!

Robbie K said...

yeah puking on the first day of school kinda became my thing...even when I wasn't the new kid.

Robbie K said...

Very true...many changes/situations in life take you back to that first day of school..wth am I doing feeling.

Robbie K said...

You are exactly right..all it takes is one person to reach out...goes for everywhere in life.
I eventually made some friends :)

Robbie K said...

Thanks :)
Never feels good to be an outsider...but it gets better with time.

Robbie K said...

My ids will be doing the same soon as well. I feel horrible about it but in the end they will be stronger for it.

Robbie K said...

Thank you :)

First days are always stressful for me..even when I'm not the new kid.

Robbie K said...

Thank you very much for your compliments & stopping by. I am lol that you can snap but not whistle...:)

PhaseThreeOfLife said...

Found you on Yeah Write. I changed schools in 4th grade, so I can relate (although I definitely think it would be harder to change in jr high). You told your story beautifully. Thank you for sharing!

NPRMommy said...

moved twice growing up...first time was the summer before third grade, which wasn't too difficult b/c i was so young...second time was the summer before 9th grade....not fun...if i didn't play sports it would have been impossible to make friends...but i remember coming home from the first day of 9th grade and my mom waiting on the porch and asking my brother and me how our day was and my brother said "it sucked."