As a dad, I’ve experienced at least a decade’s worth of First Days of School. However, I can still recall the first time I experienced the first day of school for one of my children. I felt a wide range of emotions on that day – fear, sadness, joy, excitement. It was a parenting milestone that I will never forget.
When my wife and I moved into our neighborhood, we didn’t really consider the quality of the schools because we were still childless. After some investigation, we found out that there were better elementary schools in the district. Rather than moving, we opted to send our daughter to a private school. We felt that the smaller, more intimate environment would be better for our introverted little girl.
Although Nee had been in preschool since she was two years old, she was afraid of going to “big girl school.” The summer before kindergarten was filled with tears. My wife and I did our best to comfort our daughter, but there was little we could do to eradicate her fears.
When the first day of school arrived, my daughter was still nervous. She refused to pose for the traditional first day of school photos. I had to bribe her with candy to get her to stop pouting and sit for a photo.
On the way to school, I tried to engage Nee in conversation, but she only gave me one word answers as she pensively stared out the window. I searched for words to ease her mind, but they eluded me. Instead, I placed her favorite CD by The Wiggles in the player hoping that the familiar music would soothe her.
We arrived at the school and joined the other kindergarten families in the gym. A woman greeted us and directed us to my daughter’s classroom. I held my daughter’s hand as we walked down the long hallway. Although the school was relatively small, it was much bigger than the home day cares and preschools she had previously attended. I’m sure it must have been quite intimidating to her. I pulled her closer and placed my arm on her should as we approached the classroom door.
I looked inside and saw her teacher, Mrs. Edminston, standing in the center of the classroom. We locked eyes and she beckoned us inside.
“Come on in,” she said with a smile. She had long, red hair that flowed down her back. Her freckled face was bright with enthusiasm.
“Hi,” she said as she extended her hand to my daughter. “What’s your name?”
Nee tentatively shook her teacher’s hand and whispered her name. She looked around the classroom to take it all in. There were white boards, desks, learning centers, and a small library tucked in the corner with a brightly colored rug and a couple of beanbag chairs. I’m sure that Nee was experiencing sensory overload, but she managed to keep her composure.
“You’re going to love kindergarten,” Mrs. Edminston said. “I promise.”
Over the course of the year, Mrs. Edminston kept her promise. Whereas Nee was tentative about kindergarten at the beginning of the year, she flourished and had a fantastic year thanks to Mrs. Edminston’s nurturing, encouragement, and passion.
This year, my daughter’s first day of school will be the start of her last year of middle school. Nee’s first day of middle school was was also fraught with anxiety. Not only was she going to a new school, but several of her friends were zoned to different schools ans she would no longer see them every day. Although these issues contributed to her worries, Nee’s main concern about middle school was being able to open her locker between classes. I bought her a combination lock to practice with during the summer. By the time school started, she was a pro (read the full story in my post “Middle School Locker Problems Solved“).
Nee has settled into middle school and is thriving. It’s been rewarding to see that shy kindergartener blossom into a confident young lady. This year, when I watch her board the school bus for the first day of school, my heart will be filled with unbridled joy, and I may be the one with tears in my eyes.
Join the conversation: Share your first day of school memories in the comments section or via Twitter @mochadad.
The rest of the #LSSS crew are talking about back-to-school as well. Visits their blogs here:
- Tech Savvy Mama
- Nicole’s Nickel’s
- Susan Heim on Parenting
- 5 Minutes for Mom
- Mommy Kat and Kids
- Leslie Loves Veggies
- Three Different Directions
P.S. – To prepare for the first day of school, you can also participate in two fun online events. Now through September 7th, visit www.MasterLockPhotoHunt.com for the chance to win great prizes. One lucky grand prize winner will win a Samsung Smart Media Center Package that includes a 60” HD 1080p Smart LED HDTV. There are 65 total chances to win, which includes 1 grand prize, 8 weekly prizes, and 56 daily instant win prizes.