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First Day Jitters

August 20, 2014
BY AMY WITSCHEY - Editor (awitschey@wetzelchronicle.com) , Wetzel Chronicle

As I am writing this, my little girl starts second grade tomorrow. She's not ready to go. While we have perhaps done more fun activities this summer than any other she has ever known, she's not ready to put them behind her. She wants to do more. She wants to watch more television. She wants to stay home or with me and her dad or with her little brother. . . well, maybe not her little brother.

I understand her. I don't believe I was ever ready to return to school either. I didn't hate school. My grades were good. I didn't have any behavior problems-except for that one time in fourth grade when I had to write 100 times, "I will not talk in class." Oops!

I just wanted to have fun. So does Joellen.

Article Photos

My daughter Joellen is ready for her first day of school Monday.

My sister always says that none of us siblings ever really had close friends growing up because our family were our friends. We had more fun with our family than we ever did with other people. She's probably right.

I think that is true with Joellen too. We're a clannish bunch-not because we don't like other people, we really do. For some reason we just naturally gravitate to spending time with people who are relatives.

And while we are social creatures, us Westfalls (my maiden name), I think we are secretly a little insecure at times around others. We think we don't fit in. We might wonder what they'd think of our uniquely Westfall ways.

Unfortunately I think Joellen feels that too.

Life can be hard as a child. Kids can be insensitive or downright mean. I am sure she wonders what will happen in this new world of second grade.

I have tried to assure her that I felt like her every year-nervous for the first day of school. But then when I got to school and the day began, I realized the kids were the same; I knew my classmates. The school as even the same except for the one change to high school. For the most part, it was all as I had known before, just a new year. It was familiar and familiar was good.

My annual talk of the similarities doesn't seem to matter much to Joellen. She is still very nervous and scared; that makes me sad. As a parent you wish you could always just take away their troubles, their insecurities, their fright. But even if that was possible, it wouldn't be good. It is all part of the maturing process.

Oh, maturing. . . don't even get me started on that subject. My little girl is going to be eight before I know it. Eight! That's pretty much two-thirds of a person's childhood! Ugh, now I am sad like my little girl who is quickly becoming not so little.

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We asked, via Facebook, for our readers to submit photographs of their children on the first day of school. Those submissions, at least as many as we could fit, are on page 8B.

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