LESLIE CRISS: Happiness is not having to experience first-day-of-school jitters

Leslie Criss mug“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
Joseph Campbell

“If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylums would be filled with mothers.”
Edgar W. Howe

Three good reasons to be a teacher: June, July and August.”
Anonymous

When folks find out I was a teacher in my first career, they often ask why I quit, if I miss it and, if so, what I miss about it.

I stopped teaching in order to do what I really wanted to do for a living – be a writer, a journalist. Sometimes I actually do miss being in a classroom, and have kept in touch with many of my former students who are in their 40s now, not far behind me at all.

The things I miss about teaching, I normally say, are Christmas holidays, spring break and summer vacation. I also miss having an opportunity every new day to make a difference in a student’s life.

One thing I dreaded the most as a teacher, was this time of year. The hours of summer vacation ticking away into history while a fresh school year looms near.

For me, no matter how many years I had under my belt as a teacher, before having to start back after spring break or summer vacation, I’d begin hitting the bottle.

Shots of bright pink Pepto-Bismol kept at bay the swarm of restless butterflies making themselves at home in my belly.

It mattered not whether my job was, at the time, bringing me great joy or making me want to seek employment as a big box store greeter. The butterflies lingered and made my days and nights quite miserable, tamed only in sporadic spurts by the pink stuff.

Being anxious about the first days of a new school year was not a malady that struck when I became a teacher.

No, my relationship with Pepto-Bismol commenced much earlier in life.

The butterflies might have appeared in nursery school or kindergarten, but my first memory of their presence is first grade.

My mother accompanied me to school that very first day.

Most, if not all of the other mothers saw their first-grade sons and daughters safely to their classrooms, then exited the small red brick building that housed three first-grade classrooms and a large room for public school music.

Not so, my mother.

I had not yet discovered nervous stomach-settling Pepto and spent about an hour in the “little girl’s” room right next door to Mrs. Hammond’s room. My sweet mother stayed with me, doing her best to do with her gentle words what the Pepto-

Bismol would do in later years.

I feel a little queasy just thinking on that long-ago day.

School begins this week for Tupelo, Lee County and many other students. And teachers.

I am happy not to be one of them.

leslie.criss@journalinc.com