It was finally here. The day I had been waiting for since the last day of Kindergarten. It wasn’t the new classroom or teacher that I was looking forward to. It wasn’t the new notebook and pencil that I carried in my little backpack that first day.
It was something much more important than that. Today was the day I would climb the monkey bars.
All through Kindergarten I had reached, stretched and pushed my little arms to their limit in hopes of achieving that goal. Watching the bigger kids swing so easily from bar to bar had made me long for the feeling of that cool steel against my palms. I had grown during the summer and I knew that today my dream would become reality.
When recess came, I was the first one out of the door. I raced as fast as my legs would carry me to the monkey bars. I climbed the two steps that led to the tall ladder-like structure. This was it. I took a deep breath and reached for the first handhold. The tips of my fingers brushed the underside of the bar.
“If I jump,” I thought, “maybe I can grab the bar.”
I looked up. Taking a deep breath, I gritted my teeth, jumped into the air and grasped the rail firmly in my hands.
“I did it!” I thought joyfully as my body swung forward. “I finally did it!”
I started to sway backward and my hands started to slip. For one brief moment, I was parallel to the ground. I dropped heavily, using my arms to break my fall. Pain shot through my wrists and I began bawling loudly. I was taken to the nurse, who called my mother, who took me to the doctor for x-rays.
I had fractured both wrists.
And so it was, that on the first day of the first grade, I ended up having to wait even longer to climb the monkey bars.
This is an adaptation of a piece I wrote about “Remembering The First Day of School” that was featured in the Idaho Press Tribune on Sunday, August 15, 2004