Lucy asked, “What does it mean to be courageous?”

I said, “This is what it means to be courageous,” and talked through her first day of school this year.

Monday was Lucy’s first day of CE1, or second grade.

School starts at delayed times on opening day, one grade every thirty minutes. The parents and all 150 CE1 kids herded into a fenced-in, slightly shaded space the size of an American two-car garage. We shoved and elbowed our way toward a single board with the lists of classes. The lists were written in 12-point type and so we squinted and leaned over each other and shouted.

We greeted old friends with sweaty cheek kissing and rounds of, “You’re back!” and Lucy found girls to laugh with and hug.

Then a narrow doorway was opened and we herded into a slightly larger space so that the CE2 kids and parents could crowd in behind us. In the full sun now, six teachers stood in a line in front of the new families. I could see two of their faces, one of the legs, and a bit of hair. While we continued to chat with each other and mop sweat from our faces, the school director gave a speech on a fuzzy, quiet microphone.

I hope it wasn’t important.

Then we were told to line up near our child’s teacher. I had no idea who it was because I wasn’t paying attention, but we found our way eventually, and I was overwhelmed with gratitude that this wasn’t my first year at this school, that I speak French now, that Lucy knew people here.

Lucy sat down, greeted a few kids and the teacher, and I left.

Her French is a little shaky and a little Americanized, but later she said she only needed help with the French word for ‘dwarf.’ As in, Snow White and the Seven ‘Nains.’ Not one of my top vocabulary words either.

Happy First Day to all the other First-Dayers out there, a few days late. I used to get sick the night before school started and at least one year, I barfed.

You are all courageous in my eyes.