Friday, October 26, 2012

Happy Schooldays and Happy Halloween

Since I last posted here, my little boy's first day at school has come and gone.  That day filled me with delight and pride for the little 'big' boy that he has become but also with tears and nostalgia for the little 'baby' boy he no longer is.

On his first day, he got into his uniform reluctantly and held both our hands tightly as he entered the classroom with trepidation. He joined in with the other children at a round table adorned with crayons and playthings. Although he looked happy enough, it was such a wrench to leave him, that even my normally controlled husband had a tear in his eye!

We need not have worried ourselves in the least about him.  After his first day, he was bursting with excitement and really happy that one of his best friends and  a few from his preschool were in his class.When I took him to visit his Granny in his uniform, he was so proud of himself and so exuberant about it all.

I couldn't help but think back to my own first day, many moons ago (approximately 42!) and let me say, it was very very different. I didn't like the shirt and tie, the green checked duffle coat and the heavy schoolbag. I was terrified to be thrust into this noisy, crowded unfamiliar room with a bunch of strangers.  I wailed loudly when my mother left me.  I still remember sitting at my individual wooden desk with the inkwell and measurements on it,( inherited from the dark ages it seemed) and feeling so desolate and confused. To make matters even stranger, many of the teachers and staff were nuns and in those days, wore full regalia!  Nowadays, the children are seated in a circle together, given crayons and things to play with and gently introduced to their new world.  Most children have had some experience of preschool too, so it makes for an easier transition all round.  In my day, nobody but the privileged few had done this.

Now that Halloween is nearly upon us, the nightly sounds of bangers and fireworks going off is becoming a familiar sound.  I can't say that it is a time of year that I particularly enjoy, mainly for the reason that it's a scary time for the animals.  However, it is an exciting time for the children so I am begrudgingly throwing myself into things for the sake of my five year old son.  He dressed up as a ghost last year and as he has an imaginary friend in Casper the Ghost, this was very apt.  This year he is obsessed with Spiderman and will probably wear the costume his Granny Joan (my mother) got him.  We will go to a Halloween party on Monday and then he will go to visit his cousins for trick or treating on Halloween itself.

When I was an child, we didn't have fancy shop bought costumes but made our own out of black binliners and old sheets and blankets.  I used to wear a wig of my mothers that had survived from the sixties and I looked forward to wearing it each year. We then went around a few friends and neighbours in disguise chanting our mantra 'help the halloween party'.  As far as I know this was something we said here in Ireland when they were saying 'trick or treat' in other places. It was a phrase that guilted your neighbours into giving you lots of treats although the treats back then were much healthier.  We mainly received apples, oranges, bananas, coconuts and peanuts where nowadays they seem to get a lot of sugary things!

I would love to hear some of your memories of your first day at school and your childhood Halloween rituals so feel free to share!