First Day of School

August 29, 2011

My youngest goes back to school in two days, and I remember what that first day was like, last year…

The usual routine is that she walks into the school yard, sees some friends and  then they all line up for the bell. Each teacher then leads his or her class into the school and a few parents stand on the sidelines for a last wave. Day One – lots of excitement! Loves the teacher, same teacher she had last year because at her school, the children are in “split classes” – no surprises there, and she’s  basically pretty happy with the class. Being the bubbly type, she has a great big smile on as she tosses me a wave and a “see you later!” Day Two – the class walks by me and here comes my daughter – head down, hunched shoulders. I’m wondering, what could have happened in the last 5 minutes of lining up for the bell? She looks up and I see tears – oh no, here we go – some drama (did I ever mention that one of my children is The Drama Queen?) but I am sympathetic because her face is beginning to turn red and when our eyes meet – I can see my child’s soul. So I gently take her hand and walk into the door  with her and take her aside. “What’s wrong – did something happen?” I ask her softly – because the last thing I want to do is put any suggestion in her head. By now, she is sobbing and my heart is breaking. What could be making her so sad? “I just don’t feel like going to school today” (you know how rough it can be to have to go two days in a row…!). I ask her why – what’s going on? She says she just wants to stay home with me, she’s loved the time off I had (I only worked half the summer this year) and she misses me.

A tidal wave of guilt washes over me – practically knocking me down. While I enjoy my job , I would always, always, rather be home with my kids but unfortunately it is now financially impossible, and the reminder that I was able to stay home with my two older ones steals any chance of a life jacket from me. I hold onto my daughter – partially to comfort her, but also to keep myself from going under that wave and drowning. Holding back my own tears, I take her hand and walk her upstairs to class. A teacher I have known for years happens to meet us up at the top – she has taught all my children, this one included and she swiftly puts an arm around her and cheerfully says, “Hey – I haven’t had my Back-to-School Hug yet” and walks with her over to her locker – waving her hand at me to leave from behind my daughter’s back. As a pre-school teacher who regularly has to do the same, I immediately recognize the gesture and I bolt for the stairs -but not quite fast enough, though.  My daughter rushes out for one more hug and kiss before turning back to go to class and as I descend in the silence of the long staircase I hear what I think are pieces of broken glass falling from up above…but realize that it’s only my heart.


3 Responses to “First Day of School”

  1. nives Says:

    Boy, did I ever have a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes! What a touching moment! Written so poignantly. The beautiful side of this story is that your little one is able to appreciate those special times in life at such a young age. In turn, you can hold on to them too!! xoxo

  2. sassytalk Says:

    Reblogged this on Sassy Talk and commented:

    Remembering last year….high school this year and she was happy and excited to go…what a difference a year makes… your child, anyway.

  3. tabatha Says:

    i feel the same way too, when i leave my little bitty at the daycare and i see her cry. i had all the time in the world with my older two and now, i too, have to work. And the guilt!…Thankyou for being there on the other side – i know exactly how that same scene plays out, it’s a relief to know that she has great caring teachers like you all around her.

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