Today my sister posted pictures of my beautiful 5-year-old niece grinning ear to ear on her first day of kindergarten. Oh my! The memories just came flooding back. This year I will drop off my 5th grade daughter for her very last “first day” of elementary school. Time rushes by so quickly. I wrote the words below when she went to kindergarten. If you also had a tough time on the first day of school please read on. You are not alone if the first day was a little emotional.
We held hands tightly on the walk toward the school building. A look in her eyes told me that she knew this would be good. I would learn so much! Oh, what if there were bullies? I had to hide these fears and look brave! What if the new school clothes we picked were the wrong ones? What if the teacher wasn’t nice? The tears were welling up in my eyes but she just gave my hand a squeeze to let me know it would be ok. The doors looked so heavy. I just couldn’t imagine being apart for so many hours. Summer had been so fun with swimming, playing and chasing fireflies after dark. How could I get used to these early mornings? As we got closer I just wanted to turn around and go back home. Maybe we could curl up together and read a book and pretend “back to school” never happened. Somehow we managed to hug, say goodbye, hug again and after she pulled her hand from mine I watched her run toward the line of other excited kids. Their new outfits and backpacks all held the promise of a new school year. I stood for a moment, wishing I could bring her back over for one more hug, but instead forced myself to be proud of her independence, walk away and head to work.
Looking excited and happy when I’m feeling so many emotions was exhausting. However, it was important to me that she head off to her first day feeling happy and my reaction to this experience could impact her own feelings. This mom stuff can be pretty tough! Even now, with “big kids” I am still a little sad as we talk about the transition back to school. I can’t imagine I’m alone in my struggle as I bring my child to a place where I have little control. I have to believe a little anxiety from parents and kids during a transition is pretty normal. So, if you are still exhausted from the first day or are looking toward that day, please know that you are not alone.
We also posted a few tips: 8 Steps to Keep Your Cool for Back to School
Have a great school year!
Heather DeWit, Director of Childcare and Education Services