After my hospital adventure, I wasn’t able to go back to school right away. But the time finally came when I was deemed strong enough to return to the classroom. The first day, instead of catching the morning bus to school, my mother took me in the early afternoon, after lunch and recess. It was story time. If I remember correctly, the teacher read to us, but we might also have taken turns reading. I liked reading. I liked listening. But when my mother and I were still in the car where she’d parked in front of the school, the idea of opening the door to my room and having everyone in the class stop what they were doing to turn and look at me while I took my seat proved too much to bear — this, despite the class being full of daily companions and friends, and the teacher being a kind and well-liked young woman. And so, after sitting nervously in the car for several minutes and several times almost going in, my mother and I went home. The next morning, though, I got on the bus as usual and started school again. I remember nothing else at all about that day, or the days that immediately followed.
Looking back, I suppose another mother in the same situation might not have been as sympathetic as mine. Another mother might have shoved me onto the bus that first morning and let me fend for myself. If that had happened, I would, of course, have survived. In fact, I did survive a similar situation a year earlier, on the first day of kindergarten, when my mother, who was waiting for me after school, insisted I ride the bus home so the bus driver would know where I lived. In tears, I climbed the steps of the yellow bus No. 2, driven by Mr. Enns. Out we rode onto El Monte Way, heading west. I was so completely absorbed by the process that by the time we turned left onto Road 70, I felt I’d been riding a school bus all of my life.
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Tags: Childhood, El Monte Way, Fear, Listening, Memory, Mr. Enns, My Mother, Reading, Road 70