There's a country song by Gary Allen about a dad crying on his son's first day of school. No doubt, I'll be among those ''crying like a fool" when my son enters kindergarten this year.
It's amazing how everything in the years prior to your child entering kindergarten is filled with teaching him or her about shapes, colors, numbers and letters. Then, when the time finally comes to let them out into what is their uncharted territory, your stomach churns and the tears flow.
My son, Joey, will be entering his first public school program at Westmont Elementary in August. Prior to this experience, he has enjoyed carefree days playing at home, staying up as late as he wants, sleeping in (or not, which is usually the case) until midmorning and doing what little boys and girls do all day long: play. But his world, and mine, is about to change. No longer will there be the pleas of "just one more show" before bedtime and no dilly-dallying about what to have for breakfast. There will be more structure and organization to our morning and evening routines, and that, in itself, will be a good thing.
As a parent, I want my son to eagerly anticipate school. But I cringe to think how my life is going to be turned upside down when my firstborn walks down the hall to his class, with barely a kiss or a hug for his mom. I know his love for me won't change, but it all seems different when a child goes to school: so much independence and all. That, too, is scary for me. I still want him to be dependent on me, and I know that will change in just a few months.
I've done as much as I can to prepare him, and myself, for the first day of school. We've been by the school and will soon ask for a tour of his hallway during registration. He's already eager to play on the big playground, and he's spouting off about all the new friends he's going to make. While I'm making sure I have everything I need to register him, he's concerned with whether or not mom will clear all of the toys from his room when he's at school - a threat I'm really planning to follow through on!
It's not so much the preparation for Joey that I'm working on; it's getting myself at ease with the fact that life must go on and enrolling children in school is something that all parents must go through. I know I won't be alone on that first day - or week or month - when I ride by the school just to catch a glimpse of my son on the playground or arrive an hour early and wait for school to let out.
I know other parents, likely mostly moms, will be doing the same thing. After all, it's an emotional time for all of us, particularly parents who eagerly await the day we can send our sons and daughters to school and hope for a change in the law that delays that start when the time comes.
I'm sure Joey will do fine and, eventually, I'll be fine, too. But come that first day of school, I'll be a nervous wreck as my son puts on his backpack and dons his new school clothes for an adventure that is sure to take him far in life. I know the years will pass all too quickly, and before I know it, he'll be graduating from high school.
The tears will flow then, too, but for a greater reason: he'll have accomplished so much and achieved a great education.
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