My oldest son was going to be the only one enrolling in school when we moved to the island of Oahu while their father was getting an assignment in an extremely remote location upon the Arctic Circle. We’d been stationed at Randolph AFB in San Antonio and my husband came home with the news one day that our time would be ending in Texas and that he’d be living the next 14 months in a place so cold that there weren’t even any trees! His next assignment after that wasn’t yet determined so we had to make a decision where the kiddies and I would be living. The Air Force gave us 2 choices: stay in San Antonio or move back to ‘where I came from’, with all moving expenses paid by the Air Force. I was then thrown-for-a-loop when my hubby grinned and informed me that the Air Force had ME listed as being a resident of the state of Hawaii! Oh My Goodness! I had never changed my residency out of the state of Hawaii since college, and apparently as a military spouse I never did have to renew my driver’s license….so I now had to make a choice of moving my 3 kids and myself to Hawaii or staying in San Antonio! I supposedly had until the end of the week to decide. REALLY? I decided instantaneously! We were moving to Hawaii with the move being paid for, even my car and my baby grand piano too; and also quite a hefty cost-of-living allowance increase, WOOHOO!
Hubby took us on the long flight to Honolulu. I’m so glad that we were given the ‘bulkhead’ seats because that gave us extra room. Back then, in the 80s, those seats were not necessarily reserved for particular passengers. I do feel sorry for the other folks on that plane. The stewardesses knew the kids’ names plus brought them extra treats and spent much more time on them than anybody else flying with us that day. My children have always been extremely well-behaved, but we must’ve made 3 dozen trips up and down the aisles to the bathrooms. They were sooo young and fidgeted and wanted to sing and be read to, etc. I’m just thrilled that they didn’t cry or scream like we heard some other children doing. I was embarrassed for those parents! Mine were ages 1, 2, & 4 when we flew from San Antonio to Honolulu. We were even allowed to disembark the plane 1st, along with the other family with kids, and I could swear that I heard cheering when we all got off that airplane!
After settling into our rental home, we enrolled Jerry in the preschool program at Pearl City Elementary. He needed to continue in Speech Therapy and that was a school that’d been on our list that supposedly had excellent teachers. I just wasn’t prepared that in Hawaii the preschool was going to be an all-day program! I didn’t know if I could handle having my 4&1/2-year-old away from me ALL DAY, 5 days per week! (in Texas it’d been 3 half-days) But the program was 1/2-day in preschool and 1/2-day in speech class. His 2 teachers, Miss Maile and Miss Glenda, were wonderful! He took a liking to them from the very beginning.
My biggest worry for my son was ‘culture shock’. When I’d gone to college at Chaminade College (now University) in Honolulu a few years before, I’d chosen to go there because it WAS so very far away from my tiny hometown in northern Indiana. I was from farm-country moving to a big international city and I wanted to see what folks were like elsewhere. I wanted to explore customs and cultures and religions. But Jerry was just such a little boy and had only lived in Indiana and Texas. He spoke English and was only used to hearing 2 languages spoken regularly: English and Spanish. Here in Hawaii there’s a myriad of languages heard, plus ‘pidgin’ is not at all like the English that he was used to. He also was accustomed to seeing people of only 3 nationalities in Texas….in Hawaii my children would hopefully be making friends with dozens of nationalities plus mixtures of those races, just as I had when I’d moved to Honolulu not-so-long-ago.That was certainly my dream, anyway!
During his 1st day of school, this Mama sat at home nervously wondering how his day was going and what he was doing. I fretted and fretted. I wondered if he was being accepted. I hoped he wasn’t crying or fighting or pouting. I made sure the phone was working about 15 times also, somewhat expecting the principal to call to inform me that I’d have to come and get him….I had at least a dozen scenarios imagined in my overworked mind! Finally it was time for us to go and pick him up at his new school. So into the carseats went the other 2 kids and away we drove. I’d been praying and praying all day for my son. We sat by the school sidewalk waiting for him. I was so very worried that he’d come running to the car with a black eye or bandaged knees or something. Instead, here comes Jerry surrounded by 7 lovely little Polynesian and Japanese and Hawaiian girls. He points at us and waves goodbye to them. When he gets into the car, I resist the urge to hug and kiss on him because I definitely don’t wanna embarrass him in front of the little girls! So as we drive away, I ask him if he likes his new school. He replied, “Yep. I’m the only one with Yellow Hair!” And THAT was THAT!