Surviving Your First-Born’s First Day at School


>>First-day-of-schoolIn just a few days, my first-born heads off to kindergarten. This is the kid whose nursery I obsessed over, whose first steps were anxiously awaited, who endured too many hours reciting the ABCs, and whose birthday parties required months-long planning.

Yes, you could say that I’ve been a little wrapped up in getting it “right” with this child. He is the first baby. I worry about every little thing with him. I even called the doctor when he was an infant because I was worried that he slept too much.

This is the child I have learned the tough lessons with. The one who taught me how to really love.

Sometimes I just want so badly for him to have everything – to be happy, to be successful, to be liked – that I forget to stop trying so hard and just love him. The second child and the ensuing craziness have helped that, but it still creeps up. I’m proud to say that we’ve only done sight word lists a few times this summer, focusing instead on fun and play.

In spite of all my neurotic tendencies, this amazing creature constantly astounds me. I am proud of the boy that he has become and how he continues to grow. He is smart and caring and loyal. Although cautious, he has learned to be brave and try new things. Although he likes to play his own way, he will bend the rules for a friend. He is a whiz at apps, and he has a fantastic sense of direction – far better than mine.

This transition to kindergarten is a little scary for both of us. We are two people who do not like change. We’ve done the preschool thing for four years. We have it down. We know where things are. We know the teachers. We know how things work.

On Monday we enter a brand new world, and it will take some time to learn the ropes.

I am excited for him to find new adventures, meet new friends and learn new things. After this very long summer, I am especially excited that he will be at school until 3:45 pm.

But I’m also a little sad, knowing that this is just the first major step toward independence. Steps that will get bigger and bigger until one day he is on his own. One day, instead of asking for hugs and kisses, he’ll turn away. One day he won’t ask me to explain things to him. One day he will tell his stories to someone else.

Monday, I won’t think about all the next steps, and I will focus on the excitement of this moment. I will remind myself how great my kid is at making friends and being a friend. I will remember how well he can listen (when he wants) and how he is ready for new challenges.

So, as I pack the giant bag of school supplies, I will set aside my tears and my fears. I will embrace the big step forward. And I will cheer him on.

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  1. Rebecca New

    Thank you for sharing your feelings about your son’s transition to kindergarten. I still remember my own trepidation many years ago (30!) when my son made the same journey. As a former kindergarten teacher, I was perhaps more optimistic than I should have been, at least on the first day. But ‘going to kindergarten’ wasn’t nearly as easy a transition (for him or me) as I had expected, though we both adapted to (most of) the rules and routines. Throughout the year there were surprises both welcome and disappointing and we both learned a lot.
    Perhaps it’s because of those still-strong memories that the topic of my current research is on how parents feel and think about —-and how they support—their children’s first school transitions (into PreK, kindergarten, 1st grade). I’d love to read comments from others on this topic, especially anyone who is anticipating this next big step as your child moves into early childhood settings across the state.

  2. Toni

    Great article! It is bittersweet. We both will shed some tears on Monday. Even though I have done it before I think it is harder when your last one goes to Kindergarten. They will both have a great first year!

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