The first day of school

The first day of school came and went. My youngest fussed and decided he wanted to stay home and never go back to school! He didn’t get to see his best friend except at lunch, the day was long, the school was big and he was tired! A rather typical first day, my two daughters now 25 and 23 gave him a glance but knew from previous experience not to lecture him on his cheery looking school, his fun recess without kids taunting him, the nice teachers who spoke without calling him a dog or donkey and most of all the freedom he had to wear what he wanted. The list went on, not being lined up each day for finger nail checks, only black flats, no hair accessories and no sign of anything personal. I looked their way and smiled as they told Heme, ” It will be better tomorrow buddy!”

The summer came to an end, the boys were full of jitters and so was I. We spent our last few days as usual, being together, making our own fun. Grama’s box in the corner was finally turned over to the kids to be used as an addition to the pad house, a car and train. As I watched on I felt great joy that I could provide something, anything for my children. The box had been put to the ultimate use, as all boxes would be for years to come.  I explained that this time it would be different, school would be a place to learn and grow. I packed them a lunch made with love, put in homemade cookies and sent them off around the corner.

The day was full of nervous excitement as I made myself busy around the apartment cleaning and cooking.  I could not leave the apartment because I feared the boys might come home at any moment during the day. The first year of school my oldest son was dropped at the villa doorstep on several occasions. He stood at the rusted metal gate, a 6 year old in a foreign country, no language, frantically buzzing the gate.  I ran downstairs carrying the baby and peered out to see him standing there looking so small against the large neighborhood houses. He said that the teacher had looked at his back and stomach and then sent him home.  I assumed that they thought he had chicken pox, although he did not.  This started our new routine where  I would not leave the villa during school hours. Talking to the school administrators did little good as I would learn in years to come when I visited the girls school numerous times. So each morning we had our routine and pledge, “I love you, no I will not leave the apartment, don’t worry, no I promise, I love you too” This was the drill for the second year of school.

I picked up laundry, washed and started in cooking a favorite dish for the boys. He walked in the door carrying with him a warm and comforting smile, the old days. As he walked towards me he carried all of the memories of the past.  His voice wafted towards me as perfume, first touching my face and and gently releasing its fragrance throughout my whole being until I felt washed in it from head to toe, warm and all consuming. He explained that the boys were fine and they looked happy. I felt a kind of joy that had been non existent since we arrived to this place. We laughed and joked, he peeled onions for Adas (lentil) soup while helping me with the dishes. The little kids clattered into the kitchen and he grabbed foof swinging her around as she giggled, “Baba Baba again again“.  My heart felt light, a burden had been lifted and the sun was truly shining.

As the time approached for the boys return I felt hope and guarded excitement. He walked out the door to get the boys, since he was home he offered and I gladly accepted.  The girls ran through the house laughing, arguing and playing. I could hear the boys coming up the stairs and my heart raced. I watched as the door opened and they entered but it was not what I had expected. The same sullen look followed them as it had the previous year. My heart sank, the day that was shining had now become glum, but I smiled and walked up to them to give them a hug. He looked at me sharply and I knew the look well. I stepped back and watched as he took them to the mejalis (living room). I stood at the door and listened, he lectured them on the importance of knowing the lessons and listening to the teachers and then things would be fine. As he exited the room he stood looking at me for a moment, a warning. I let him pass and walked into the room seating myself in between my boys, I put my arm around them and warmly kissed them on the cheek. They laid against me and we just sat talking and trying to laugh. I finally asked them the dreaded words I was warned never to speak, “how was school?” They both ignored my question and started to unpack their bags. I looked at my oldest son and asked straight, “Did anyone at school do anything to upset you?”  He looked down at the pad and said,  “the school is newer and nicer, the teachers seem better. ” I pressed on, “Did anyone hit you?” He looked at me and spoke,  “At the beginning of the first class the teacher asked us to all hold out our hands, he walked around and hit each of us on the palm with a ruler and said something about not doing anything bad or this is what would happen.”

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68 thoughts on “The first day of school

  1. Wow again….at least your children learned discipline of life….not always a bad thing to have ….I just wish you could of had more happiness than anxiety while you were there….at least you were in a better place and had windows….can’t wait for the next chapter..and your children grew to be wonderful adults in life…you did good!!!

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      1. How could it not….I realize it was hard on you to watch your kids grow up with less than you wished for them, however I believe that we hurt more than the kids ever do, they are resilient and bounce back from everything…but as parents, the pain of seeing a child unhappy is quite painful…you did good with what you were handed….which wasn’t much…its so hard for us westerner’s to imagine the daily life you all had over there, I understand why they call us spoiled. I have trouble with the way women are still treated in many countries, and how degraded they are…I still shake my head that you stayed for so long….

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      1. I can imagine on both counts, no doubt you have brought up nine well rounded humans. May I ask how old the youngest is now no worries if that is too personal. xxx

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      2. thank you so much! We are trying to heal and the kids have done well. I wanted to post a picture of my 7th child, he runs and got third place yesterday at his first meet! When these little triumphs occur I feel wow ok things are really good!!! Thanks for commenting and reading it means so much!

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  2. You have an interesting story to tell and you tell it very well. I am going to follow you because I would like to read more of your blog. It is intriguing. Oh, and thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my blog.

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  3. Oh Lyn – I hope you plan to publish this into a book and you become as rich with money as you are in love with your children and with your outlook on life despite what you have been through. You are SUCH a gifted writer. You start on an edge and leave us hanging and wanting to read more. So talented. Love each new installment more and more as we get to know you and your family better!!! Hugs!

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    1. I agree! your kids are blessed to have you. They are well rounded because as tough as they had you provided a safe haven for them as best you could. I think I would have lost my mind! You also have a gift of seeing the positives in a bad situation. That’s a great strength.

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  4. I don’t know how anyone could stand a life like this. That ugliness of spirit just makes me crazy. You are one strong cookie. I’m glad you made it out alive and apparently with all your wits intact.

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  5. What an awfful way to conduct lessons – punishments used as a warning. It’s so harsh and sounds worse than the strict Victorian schools. You must have felt you were treading on eggshells when dealing with your very changeable husband. You definitely showed courage and determination through all this. A gripping read, as always.

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  6. Another part of your story that had me riveted. Life is just so very different there. I’m sure you had to accept a lot in order to survive, thrive and raise healthy children. In order to change anything we have to accept the situation first. Glad you were able to make some huge changes and move back.

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  7. I agree with Jodi, you should turn your experiences in a book. You’re a talented writer, with so many fascinating stories and perspectives. You could have your recipes interspersed with your stories….a companion recipe to go with different chapters.

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