Welcome to my back-to-school nightmare

Published 7:09 am Wednesday, August 9, 2000

By By Robert Blankenship
Advance Managing Editor
Back to School. For some adults this brings back splendid memories of shopping sprees and new friends. But for me, it's more like a bad dream that I just can't forget.
The images from that day are embedded in my mind like a German Shepherd's teeth in the arm of a fugitive. On my first day of kindergarten I remember waking up excited about the possibilities that awaited me. Everything was fine as I put on my favorite new shirt, ate breakfast and jumped in the car with by grandmother who was my escort this particular morning.
But, as I walked into the long corridor that led to a series of classrooms on either side, my heart began pounding and my knees began to shake. My grandmother (Granny was her name) and another person dramatically taller then myself began speaking in this hallway as I stood there experiencing what must have been a heart attack.
After they completed their discussion, Granny looked down at me, surely noticing the suffering and agony I was experiencing, and muttered "time for me to go."
At this point the thumping of my heart and the jelly that had replaced every muscle in my body was too much for my six-year-old brain to take. But, I was still grasping onto a single thread of courage and self-respect.
As the person I did not know began to take my hand and lead me into a room full of awkward shapes plastered to the walls and rows of chairs that were neatly placed one beside another, I got a good look inside. A group of children my age turned their head and looked at me. I think they may have shot me with eye lasers at that moment because I suddenly began freaking out.
I stretched my short arms to their maximum extent and managed to grasp the doorframe as the adult lady shoved me into the dungeon of colors and shapes. Simultaneously, the Hoover Dam exploded in my eyes as an onslaught of tears began rolling down my face.
During all of this I did learn something: the only person you can count on is yourself. I figured with all of the pain and suffering I was demonstrating, Granny would lift me into her strong arms and run out of the building as quickly as she could. Instead, she began pushing me from behind! She had actually teamed up with the other adult who was pulling me from inside the door.
After fighting a hard battle for some time, I realized that I was outmatched by stronger and much darker powers. After all, anything that could turn Granny against me had to be of a supernatural source.
Once I surrendered my post in the doorway, I walked inside and tried to get a hold of myself. Taking short, sporadic breaths, and wiping the moisture from my face, my teacher led me to a round table where other captured children were being kept and sat me down. I took a good look at my surroundings and decided to toughen up and await my fate.
Now, I don't remember what happened after that, but I do know that it wasn't long before me and the other children began speaking and jostling the knick-knacks that were placed on the table. I also met a boy named Steven and we became buddies for the rest of the school year.
Then, the adult lady came to us and spoke. Her tone was more like that of an angel than a dragon.
She sat down in one of the little chairs and read a story and showed us how to tie our shoes.
As me and the other children laid on some big blue and red pads for a nap, I began to realize that she wasn't going to smack me around or suck my blood. Instead, she was going to show me things that I had never seen before and help me become smarter.
At the end of the day, I got off of the school bus and made a mad dash for home. Granny was waiting for me out in the yard and I think she was surprised when I told her I couldn't wait to go to school tomorrow.

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