A few years ago, back when I was a boy “in the day”, I sometimes approached the day after Labour Day with trepidation, and sometimes I looked forward to it, depending which grade I was going into at any given time.
I think one difference from when my kids headed off to school was in that I attended elementary schools on Canadian Forces Air bases; by the time I was in high school, my dad had just retired from the Air Force and for the first time (in Grade 10) I had to attend a normal public school in a town.
Actually, I should back up a year — the first time I ever had to attend a school off-base was in Moose Jaw. The base school only went to Grade 8, so for Grade 9, I had to board a Canadian Forces green bus and be driven into the city of Moose Jaw whereupon I attended Riverview Collegiate Institute (RVCI).
Then, after making friends with some of the kids there, I had to move to Central Alberta to Innisfail where I then took my high school.
The schools on the air bases were all brick buildings, and all the kids there were “air force brats” like I was. For kindergarten and Grades 1 and 2, it was at a school on CFB Bagotville, which is at Chicoutimi, Que.; we then moved for my Grade 3 year to CFB Edmonton and I spent the next five years there.
For an air force brat, that was an amazingly long time; our stay at CFB Moose Jaw was only two years, and from what I know of air force families, that was more usual. I’m glad for the five-year stay, because I could make friends and play with kids in the neighbourhood, and in five years I was able to get to know them pretty well.
As my stay extended to the end of Grade 7, I also had my first major crush on a girl (named Karen), but as she did not return my affections, it was a particularly emotionally hard time for me, and then we had to move to Moose Jaw. While I was only there two years, it was long enough to fall in love with more girls, and to have my heart broken some more — but nonetheless, I enjoyed the friends I made there, and at my very first “civvie” school.
So, as you can see, there were other factors going on in my life that played into the whole “back-to-school” scenario — but I am quite sure it wasn’t all that different from other kids of my age, or later when I had four kids of my own, seeing them go off to school.
The difference for them was, I hoped to give them stability rather than moving every couple years, and we did that; all the kids went to Souris, then WJH and then finished out at the Comp, and I now have a daughter in her third year at the U of R, to be a teacher of the arts.