Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Joshua First Day of Middle School 7am

For a number of reasons, I was in Philadelphia for my siblings' first day of middle school and high school, respectively.

I volunteered to take Joshua on his very first day as my mother had work. Josh and I rode the 7:10am train together last Tuesday morning. I sat in one seat and pretended not to know him, while he sat with his buddy Joe, a seasoned 7th grader. I read my book, and he and Joe and the other boys chatted about their summers and the malicious teachers awaiting them. We nodded heads in each others' direction when it was time to get off, and behind a group of 8 or so middle schooler's I watched Josh, with a backpack too large for his petit frame, trample forth with his peers. As a group we walked long city blocks and crossed the wide streets in the direction of their school, its a daunting walk if you're eleven. I casually asked all of the kids their names as I knew Josh would initially be too shy to do so, all the while thinking "Am I embarrassing him?" I tried to play the cool older sister.

Though the train was delayed we arrived at school in time. I followed Josh, who seemingly knew where he was going, into the office to drop off his paperwork. All public elementary school office's are built of the same stuff, the familiarity of this room was uncanny, including the people. A woman approached and when she spoke she asked if I had all of my child's paperwork together. I smiled, explained that Josh is my brother, and that I'd have to check with our mother to make sure everything was in order. She directed us to the auditorium. I wanted to hold Josh's hand while we walked, but refrained. From the door of the auditorium a man with a whistle around his neck was orchestrating the chaotic scene. Josh and I approached. Whistle-man shuffled through papers on a clipboard for sometime and eventually found Josh's name. He instructed us to sit in the 6th grade section. When I asked Josh if he wanted me to stand in the back, he said "no, sit with me" and I was thrilled. He seemed so little in this big auditorium. My memories of eleven are not so small. Various teachers and administrators spoke, and my childhood memories of boring assemblies were confirmed. But I forced myself to pay attention, for Josh. And then finally we (the parents and guardians) were told to leave. Josh and I shared a low high five, I gave him a wink, and then I left, or so he thought. I stayed and watched him from an obscure angle for a couple more minutes, waiting to see if he was ok, which of course he was, even though I felt like I wanted to cry. But I also felt like I served a purpose, and with that in mind, I turned and left him to have his first day of school.

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