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School Daze

Silver Dollar

Earlier this week, I went to the bank with two quarters in my pocket. I approached the teller and asked her if I could exchange them for a half dollar. She looked at me kind of strange, but she handed it over. I took the coin, put it in my pants pocket and walked back to the car. As it bumped against my leg, I thought back to when I was just 3 or 4 years old.

It's odd, the things we remember from when we were so very young, isn't it? If I really try, I can distinctly recall certain scenes and images. For instance, I can remember standing in a crib and calling out for mom and/or dad. My father came into the room and asked what I wanted. I said a drink, and he produced a cup of juice. It's nothing special, but I clearly remember it happening.

We had one of those old-fashioned, non-motorized push lawn mowers when I was just a little kid. You know the kind: two wheels, blades in between and a handle. One day I decided to go into the garage and see if I could get my foot in between the curled blades (I was a bright child). The good news: I could. The bad news: I couldn't get it back out. A team of panicked and annoyed adults finally rescued me, wailing, from my own stupidity.

I also have scattered memories from preschool. There was this little hut in the school that we could all go into with grapes and vines on the ceiling. I also remember taking a nap on my braided rug, and the musty smell of it. But mostly, I remember yelling my head off.

I was the annoying kid that wailed like a banshee at the start of every school day when my parents dropped me off. I can remember standing in that hallway just crying like someone had kicked my dog, and the teacher ushering me into the classroom. What a pleasure I must have been.

One day, my father pulled me aside at home and said, "I have something for you." He pulled a half dollar out his pocket and asked me, "Do you know what this is?" "No," I said. "It's a magic coin," he told me. I had never seen one so big, so I decided that it must be true. "Here's how it works. You keep it in your pocket, and whenever you feel scared or sad, you just rub the coin, and the feeling will go away." I was skeptical but willing to give it a try.

The next day I went to school with my magic coin. I clearly remember sticking my hand into my pocket and rubbing the coin with my thumb. The fact is, it worked. It made me remember my father's kind words and intentions, and that made me feel better. How sweet, my first placebo effect. I also recall the day I handed it back to him and said, "I don't need this anymore."

Now it's my turn to be the magician. Today is Gracie's very first day of school, and I'm not sure how it's going to go. For all I know, she'll love each and every minute of it, right from the start.

If not, I'm ready.