The First Day of High School



The First Day of High School


"A" my name is Alice

and my husband's name is Alan

we live in Alabama

where we sell apples

"B" my name is Betty

and my husband's name is Ben

we live in Boston

were we sell bananas

And so on it went, from A to Z.


Three teenagers in the back seat of the car, rehashing a childhood game in an effort to pass the hour-long ride home from the beach.  With the knowledge that my daughter Melissa preferred we didn't exist, my husband Bob and I resisted the urge to listen, to laugh, and to shout out suggestions.


As we continued on our effortless and (shockingly) traffic-free journey, the rhythmic sound of wheels on road, coupled with the innocent giggles emanating from the back seat, lulled me into a dream-like state where I floated back in time.  There I stood in my kitchen, holding a ball in my hands.  A blue, basketball-sized ball, much softer than the professional version but with a sure and steady ability to bounce its way across the tiled floor.   My six-year old Melissa had picked it from among dozens that had been stuffed into a six foot cage in the middle of the supermarket, just beckoning children to bounce them all over the store.  For a few dollars I figured, "why not?".


As a stood in my kitchen with my eager young offspring watching in wonder, I taught her a new game, bouncing the ball as I uttered each syllable.


"A" my name is Alice

and my husband's name is Alan

we live in Alabama

where we sell apples


"I want to try mommy, I want to try!" she squealed.


I handed her the ball.  With hand and eye coordination not quite perfected, Melissa tried her best to bounce the ball while thinking of things that started with the letter "B".  After running after the ball several times, and a wee bit of help from her parents, she happily allowed her mommy to have a turn.


And so on it went, from A to Z.


Nine years later.


"H" my name is Helen

and my husband's name is Harry

we come from Houston

where we sell um, um, um

"Hats!" shouted Melissa in an effort to help her friend Sarah.

"Horses!" shouted teenager number three, Melissa's friend John

"Hoses!" I chimed in, unable to help myself.

"," struggled Sarah, not wanting to take any suggestions and determined to think of something to sell beginning with the letter "H" completely on her own.


Finally, with an air of triumph, Sarah shouted, "Houses!"

And so on it went, from A to Z.


In three more days, the three teenagers in the back seat of my car would be entering that building where childhood is checked at the door.  Yes, my daughter and her friends were going to start high school.  If they had been nervous, their fear didn't show during the drive home from the shore.


"N" my name is Nancy

and my husband's name is Ned

we come from Nebraska 

where we sell napkins.

They had taken it upon themselves to hold onto their innocence, and from my invisible position in the front seat of the car, I relished every last moment.  For I knew in a few short days, a whole new world of wonder, uncertainty, and fear awaited them.   Would they get lost on the first day?  Would they miss the bus?  Would they handle the increased and much more challenging course work?  Would their hearts get broken? Would they succumb to the taunts of bullies?  Would they be tempted by alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs?


"R" my name is Robin 

and my husband's name is Ralph

we come from Rhode Island

where we sell roller skates


Would they stay so young, so carefree, so innocent?  Three teenagers, laughing through a childhood game learned so long ago?


Three days later, Melissa awakened at 5:45 in the morning, styled her hair to perfection, and made sure her clothes were just right.  Then she reluctantly stood in the same kitchen where I taught her how to bounce a ball so many years ago, and allowed me to capture the moment through the miracle of  smart phone photography.


As she walked down the street towards the corner bus stop, she turned her head and signaled for me to go in the house, not to watch, she'd be just fine.  I made my way back through the front door, then immediately turned and ran to the car, jumped in and drove to the end of my driveway, craning my neck and squinting my eyes in an effort to see down to the corner.


Too far to get a glimpse, I conceded defeat.


Back in the house, as I poured my coffee, it suddenly occurred to me.  The smart phone!


Not quite an expert in the art of texting, I painstakingly tapped out the brief message, "R u on the bus yet?"


I waited a few anguished moments before the phone let out the familiar "ding" alerting me to her reply.


"Yes we r almost there"


"Great have a fun day" I texted back, trying to show some emotional restraint.


"I love you" came her reply.


And with that, I smiled,  as some....not all.....but some of my fears washed away.


"L" my name is Lisa

and my husband's name is Bob

we come from New Jersey

where we're the proud parents of a high school freshman


Yes, Melissa was going to be just fine.


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