I could never understand why people got emotional what people cried about their kid going off to school for the first day of school. It seemed silly. The kid isn’t going anywhere.
They aren’t really sad, exactly; it’s just they are overwhelmed with emotion and feeling a lot of things. Crying is one way of expressing it. I think I understand. I keep feeling like my daughter is going away. I’m going to miss her. Silly, huh? How can you miss somebody who’s going to be in your house every day, sleeping your house every night, eating breakfast at your table every morning?
She’s four years old. Three short years ago she was just learning how to walk. Two years ago she was learning how to get out of diapers to be potty trained. A year ago she was learning how to swim across the pool.
Seven days from now she goes off to her first day of school.
So many times she wanted to do things, but I couldn’t. I had to say “no.” That’s life. We get busy. The start of school means there will be less time for those opportunities now. I feel bad about that. I wish I had said yes more. I wish I had made more time.
Yesterday, all she wanted was to swim in our pool and we didn’t even do that. It rained all day. There was too much lightning. What a way to end summer. Couldn’t even go for a swim 20 feet outside my own back door.
So, all that first day of school crying? Silly. It’s a combination of parental guilt and sadness and excitement and fear… School just gets the blame. But there’s also the immense pride at how grown up my little girl is becoming. How excited she is to make new friends. She made sure she had her lunch box and backpack all set to go. She carried it around all day. (I mentioned that school doesn’t start for a week, right?)
Parents feel an undeniable tint on this whole thing that is a steady reminder: with each passing day, the child needs the parents a little less.
I knew way back during those 3am feeding that this day would come. I was warned. I wanted it to come back then. Now, I wish I had more time.
Nobody enjoys saying goodbye. That sweet little kid that looked up to me and thought I was the smartest, bravest, funniest man on Earth, who enjoyed laughing playing with me more than anyone else, is about to find out the truth – that there are a lot of interesting kids in school, and, well… dad is still pretty neat, but these kids want to play hopscotch and climb trees and crawl through tubes!
It isn’t over, I know. That’s silly; everything is still just starting. And I want her to grow and explore and become the person she is going to be. She isn’t going anywhere, but in some ways, she’s already gone. It’s a tiny taste of what is coming and I don’t like it, even though I’m sure I’m going to enjoy how things are going to be. But that doesn’t mean I can’t also miss how they were.
So don’t expect me to be one of those parents crying on the first day of school.
I did it today and got it over with when nobody was looking.
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