Moving to a new place is never easy, especially when that place is two states away from where you’ve grown up.
Add attending a school for the first time ever, after years of homeschooling, and it makes the first day of classes more nervewracking than an overtime hockey game.
I had it slightly easier than my younger siblings, in that I knew two people in my class, from the field hockey practices I’d attended a few days before the opening of the school year. So I knew coming into the building that there were some faces I’d know when my classmates arrived. The difficult part was waiting for them to get to school, while my dad made last-minute arrangements to the small classroom.
Yes, my dad. He was the homeroom teacher for the sixth grade class, you see. And I was going into sixth grade, and was going to have him as homeroom teacher, history and geography teacher, and Latin teacher.
I didn’t know the implications of this at the time: that he would know all the times I could have studied for a certain quiz or that he would be the first to remind me of that vocab quiz I could be studying for when I was comfortably perusing an Agatha Christie. All I knew at the time was that I was watching him at work, and that it was very different from the way he conducted himself at home. At home, my dad was and is rather loud, easily inclined to tell stories or joke, and on the whole not someone I could associate with being a teacher, even though I knew that was his job. All I really knew about teachers was what I had gained from cheap and out-of-date kid’s books at the library, and none of the masters of learning therein remotely resembled my dad, a very tall former actor with a beard and no glasses whatsoever.
When the kids started filing in, I introduced myself to a few. They were somewhat surprised to hear that the guy at the front of the classroom was my dad. And then came the inevitable question: “What’s he like?”
They meant as a teacher, of course, and I didn’t really know. I knew my dad could tell funny stories, and I knew he had directed plays at his old school. I knew he read a lot of history books. More than that I couldn’t say.
The bell rang to signal the middle-school kids chattering in the lone hallway that now was the time to get back to one of their three classrooms. In all the clamor I hadn’t noticed that my dad was gone. The intercom bell ceased to ring, and there was dead silence in the classroom- for about three seconds.
Everyone in the class screamed/yelled/jumped. I was in the latter category- I knew the sound as the yell my dad was accustomed to giving when he was chasing us or telling a story with monster sound effects, but the last place I had expected it was in the classroom at my new school. Once everyone’s heart rates had calmed down, we all stared at the doorway, where my dad stood with a very innocent look on his face.
“Hi, I’m Mr. Flynn.”
As some of the kids laughed and most of them sat down, the girl in front of me leaned over to my desk. “Is that what he’s like?” she whispered.
“Yeah, most of the time,” I whispered back, trying to sound calm and collected. I hoped she couldn’t see that I hadn’t known the answer until that very moment.
Love you, Dad! Here’s to a good tenth year at the ‘new place!’