It's hard to believe that the first day of school for most kids here on the SouthCoast has arrived.

With everything going on with COVID-19, in-school teaching was more of a pipe dream than a reality, yet here we are. Hybrid learning now allows half of the classroom to learn from home and the other from school. Confusing as it sounds, I'm sure there's a science behind the 2020 curriculum.

Either way, parents are still posting their child's "first day of school" photos to Facebook, littering the social media feeds of fellow parents and non-parents alike. Everywhere I look, there's either a kid standing outside of their school or still in bed with the caption "First Day of School: Home Edition."

Brand new clothes were always laid out for the next day, paired up with a brand new pair of shoes. Remember how excited we were to get dressed for the first week of school? I most certainly do and couldn't wait to show off my shoes or designer shirts.

I recall how embarrassing it was to take those first day photos that occurred just about every school year all the way up to senior year. Normally, it was taken at the bus stop where all the neighborhood kids would meet, making it that much worse as I begged my mother to hurry up with the camera.

That initial sound of the bus coming around the corner is ingrained in my mind as if it were yesterday. The strong smell of diesel fuel filled the air and the sound of the engine drowned out the final goodbyes from the parents. Looking back, that first step onto the bus was always full of anxiety, wondering where you were going to sit and who would even let you sit with them; now that was a whole other problem.

The designated drop-off zone gave us our first glimpse of the school as we prepared to embark into a whole new year of classes, friendships and self-discoveries.

I remember the difficulty of finding your new classroom. I was always one of the last kids to enter the room and it was frightening as hell. Again, trying to find out where to sit and who would let you sit near them – these were, at the time, considered major problems to an eight-year-old just looking for a chair.

Fast-forward to lunch, one of the most exciting and nerve-racking times of the school day. For the third time, you have to search for the seat that could very well be your lunch crew for the remainder of the year, so choosing wisely was important. I will say that there was always a light load of pressure that was lifted when you find out its pizza day or that the school had chicken sandwiches (or as Westport schools called them, chicken burgers).

Once the clock read 1 p.m., you were just an hour away from freedom. Homework assignments for the most part were never given on the first day, but there was always that one teacher who savagely sent you home with a book report right off the bat that would be due within a day or two. I was not a fan, to say the least.

When it was finally time to head home, you'd pack back onto the bus like sardines. The bus ride always felt like four hours, even though it was only a 25-minute bus ride to your drop-off location. Sometimes I would nap, but for the most part, I had my cassette player to get me by, enjoying the sweet tunes of Meatloaf and Chumbawumba.

Walking off the bus, there was that "home free" feeling that everyone enjoyed the most. Back home, there was always a fridge full of leftovers and hidden snacks that Mom didn't know I knew about. Two choices were made next: homework or play, depending on the teachers you had. I was never a video game kid, so most of the time you could catch me outside shooting hoops or riding my bike.

A somewhat simple day felt like an eternity as a kid. These days, most of us work from the moment we wake up until bedtime.

The first day of school was complex and often scary, but it was also a nostalgic thrill ride that I'll never forget.

Enter your number to get our free mobile app