On my first day of “big” school, I ran away.
I was only 4 (due to turn 5 in April) so I’m not sure whether I genuinely “ran away” or whether I thought big school finished at lunchtime, just as kinder had. Maybe I thought I’d swing by a hairdresser and get them to rid me of the god-awful bowl-cut. But this was the 70s and that would be betrayal.
I do have a very strong memory of walking up the hot tarred drive to the entrance of the school and trying to decide whether I should turn right or left, my new bought-for-school Clarks snagged in a storm of indecision. I don’t recall saying goodbye to anyone.
I don’t remember this, but it’s one of my mum’s favourite stories of my childhood (a close second to the time I got drunk at a Christening when I was 3). Apparently a friend of my mum’s spotted me heading down Toronto Esplanade, a short way from the school, and had stopped to take me back. I was a straightforward, strong-willed child (nothing’s really changed, for the record) and simply told her “No! I don’t talk to strangers!” No anxiety, no drama, just a statement of fact.
Our house was a decent kilometre away from the school and to get there, you had to cross a train line, a major road littered with traffic, up and down hills, past the marina where old salts hung out smoking endless pipes with a fishing line hung lazily off their arms.
I recollect being outraged when my mum pulled up beside me at the top of the very last hill, or as outraged as a 4 year old could muster (by all accounts, this was a fair amount). My young breast had been puffed out in pride that I’d made it practically all the way home and was swiftly deflated when the car door opened. I recollect my mum being outraged that the school didn’t realise I was missing until an hour after I’d left. No-one had seen me leave. No-one noticed there was a little person missing from the classroom.
The social side of school didn’t get much better for me. If I hadn’t meant to run away that day, I certainly considered it many days following. That first day prepared me for a life of wandering. Independence. Itchy feet.
A silver lining.
Linking up with My Mummy Daze for her “Stories of Me”.