Droef is wonderfully lazing in the sun. Noortje is lying next to him, her head resting on his stomach. Every now and then Droef looks up and gives her a lick. Noortje admires her new bag. A real backpack for school. Dad took him when he came home from Denmark. It is a beautiful colourful bag. There are pictures of young swans on it.
‘Isn’t he beautiful, Droef,’ and she holds her backpack straight in front of her.
Droef smells of it and suddenly starts to sneeze. ‘Well, look, you sneeze him all wet.’ She quickly rubs the moisture from her backpack with the sleeve of her waistcoat. ‘Bah …. now he isn’t so beautiful anymore.’
Droef raises his head and pushes him against her hand as if he wanted to say. ‘I didn’t do it on purpose. Sorry.’
‘So, what have I heard. You go to school,’ hears Noortje.
She jumps up and there, by the big oak tree, stands the strange little man with his weird hat.
Noortje wants to approach him, but the little man calls; ‘Stand still, otherwise, I spit resin on your bag, and it will make it very ugly.’
She takes a few steps back and falls over Droef, who gets up and decides to lie down quietly in his loft. Today he just doesn’t feel like a hassle. Noortje closes her eyes for a moment, hoping that when she opens them again, the little man disappeared. He’s scary and she remembers the night she first saw him. She throws her backpack far behind her and with trembling legs, she walks towards him.
‘You have to listen carefully to me creepy little man. If you do something with my bag, I will tell my dad. Or else I will take your hat off your head.’
She extends her hand to the male’s hat, but he quickly jumps aside and calls anxiously; ‘No, don’t touch my hat, I promise to be nice to you and not to tease you anymore.’
Noortje makes another attempt to grab the hat, but the little man keeps moaning; ‘Please don’t. If you take my hat off my head then ……, then,’
‘Then what,’ Noortje asks.
‘Nothing, just kidding. I am already going. Have a nice day at school,’ the man shouts and disappears under the bushes.
Noortje doesn’t understand it but let it co and walks to the lake. The young swans are sitting there and fluttering with their wings to shake out the feather which they have previously pulled out.
‘Mom, it tickles like that,’ one of the swans calls out.
‘Try to hit your wings a little harder. Good practice, it makes them stronger. Soon you will need strong wings when you start flying.’
Noortje takes her backpack and walks home. She’s a little impatient. She wants to go to school. Learn to count and write. Mommy says she can also play and draw there.
‘Mom …. it’s already time. I will already pack my bag. I mustn’t forget to bring an apple. How long will it take to walk to school.’ And she pulls on Mommy’s apron impatiently.
‘Darling, take it easy,’ answers Mom.
Noortje doesn’t understand that Mom is very reluctant to take her little girl to school.
‘You can start packing your bag and don’t forget your drawing book and your coloured pencils and a nice red apple.’
Noortje doesn’t understand it. She has already done that. Mommy didn’t even see that. Not understandingly she shrugs.
‘Mothers,’ she sighs.
Mother rubs her hands dry and sighs a few times. She doesn’t like to leave her daughter at school behind, even if it is only for a few hours.
She helps Noortje in her jacket and ties the backpack on her back. ‘You are already a big girl. Come on baby we go,’ and they proudly walk through the garden to school.
‘Do your best,’ one of the swans calls out. ‘Look, I can almost fly,’ and he proudly flaps his wings.
Noortje turns around and calls to the swan; ‘I’m going to do my best, just like you!’
Mother looks at her in surprise. ‘Who are you talking to?’
‘Oh, against the swans. They have to learn to fly and I will learn to count and write,’ and she looks at Mom proudly.
On the schoolyard, there are more children who go to school for the first time. A lady looks at her and says. ‘You must be Noortje. I’m Miss Mary. Come along and I’ll point out your seat.’
Noortje turns around and says goodbye to her mom. Then she walks back to her chair and waves at her.
Next to her sits a girl who sobbingly calls for her mommy and tears roll down her cheeks.
For a moment Noortje feels a bit sick, but then the lady looks at her with a smile. That does her good. Noortje takes the girl’s hand and asks her name.
‘I …, my name is Mellie, I want to go home,’ she sobs again.
Noortje takes a handkerchief from her pocket and gives it to Mellie. ‘Don’t cry, the school can only be fun. We are going to draw and play together, and we have a very sweet teacher. Really…,’ and again she takes her hand in hers.
The teacher is sweet and funny and soon all the children are inside. First, they introduced themselves to each other. Then Miss Mary decides that the first day, they can do what the children prefer to do. Soon groups are formed, and they do the things they have chosen. Before Noortje realizes it, mommy is waiting for her to go home.