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First day of school disaster

While tucking Kit into bed the night before his first day of 5th grade in a new school, he asked me if I was ever nervous going to a new school.

"Was I?" It was time to tell the disaster of '68. He was old enough to hear what a wussbag his grampy was. "When I was 10 and starting 6th grade, we had just moved 100 miles from Toronto into an old farmhouse that didn't even have plumbing or electricity. After a summer of battling flies for my supper, using an outhouse and hand water pump to bathe and drink from, Labor Day rolled up and along with it the first school bus I'd taken since nursery school when it took 3 adults to get me on. I slunk into the seat behind the driver and sat like a stone. The bus didn't move. The few kids already aboard were silent like they were waiting for the axe murderer to strike. I looked up into the big mirror and the 250 year old grizzly face of Ross the bus driver stared back at me. 'You can't sit there. That's the girls side,' he belched out like car backfiring. I stared at the floor and crossed the aisle to the first available seat - behind another terrified kid who had already scored the front seat.

"After a 40 minute spine jolting ride down one endless dirt road after another, the half day of school was a blur except for bus time when 8 identical yellow busses were lined up outside the school and I had no idea which one was mine. I looked them up and down and in the windows for my sister but couldn't cut a break. As they started to fire up, I panicked and finally with tears streaming down my face asked a group of bus drivers, ancient corpses all in blue jackets and cap, which one was mine.

"'That's Dick Lunn's boy,' one barked out. 'You're on my bus down at the end.' I fled, climbed the steps and took the same seat I had that morning - which, incidentally, I stayed in through my entire 5 years riding that bus. When we finally arrived at the hell hole that was now our home, I ran inside and puked. After all I'd lived in the city my whole life with running water, a walk to school, and other houses closer together than the 1/4 mile they were here."

"Why'd you puke?" Kit asked, seizing on the central point.

"Because I was a terrified shy kid and frightened so bad by the whole experience that my stomach stopped working. I didn't go back to school for another 3 weeks and spent 10 days in the hospital because I couldn't keep any food in. I'd either puke it up or it would run through so fast it didn't do me any good (and we still only had the 3 seater outhouse). They had to put me on a I.V. at the hospital just to feed me.

"So there you have my first day of a new school. That should make you feel better because anything that happens to you will never be that bad. I was nothing like you."

"Why were you so shy."

"That's for another day."

As I hoped, my childhood tragedy made him laugh and realize he was okay. The next day when I picked him up from school, he said he'd already been written up. "What for?" I asked. "For being me," he said.

That made me dread all the way home but after we got there he showed me a sheet he'd written up himself about what a great guy he was. He even put his new teacher's signature. At supper he said he felt sick all day and wanted to puke. "I think I need to go to the hospital." Perfect. He spent time prepping his jokes, even if they were at my expense, to show he was okay.

Kit's gonna do alright.