When the first day of school isn't picture-perfect

Jennifer Cohron
Posted 8/18/17

This is for the parents whose social media accounts were quiet on the first day of school.

I don’t know why this milestone didn’t provide a happy memory for you and your child, but I have a pretty good idea about how it made you feel.

When …

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When the first day of school isn't picture-perfect

Posted

This is for the parents whose social media accounts were quiet on the first day of school.

I don’t know why this milestone didn’t provide a happy memory for you and your child, but I have a pretty good idea about how it made you feel.

When I looked in my son’s eyes and saw my own fear and anxiety staring back at me, I felt responsible.

When he crawled into my lap and whispered, “I’m scared,” five minutes before we walked out the door, I felt helpless.

When he didn’t cry when I dropped him off in his kindergarten classroom, it broke my heart because I knew he was trying so hard to be brave.

When I decided to take one last peek after leaving his classroom and realized that he was looking at the door to see if I was really gone, I felt like taking him home.

I avoided Facebook all day because I couldn’t take one more post about how little Johnny loved his teacher and couldn’t wait to get to school.

I tried to make him laugh that morning so I would have at least one picture of him smiling on his first day of school even though I’ll always know that moment was totally manufactured.

I didn’t want to hear “It gets better” from one more parent whose children have left the nest, but after surviving my third first day of school as a parent, I have to admit that it’s true.

This year, Wyatt still asked me to walk him into school, but he ditched me as soon as we got through the door.

The kid who didn’t even want to make eye contact with his classmates on that first day of kindergarten isn’t fazed by the fact that most of his friends are in other classes. He’s already making new ones, and he assures me that the old ones are waiting for him at P.E.

He loves his teacher. He gets to learn about money this year. He doesn’t have any homework this week.

In short, he’s pumped.

I don’t worry about him as much as I did on that first day because I know he is at a school where teachers and staff nurture students as much as they teach them.

On the kindergarten field trip to the pumpkin patch, I saw his teacher gather up several kids who seemed a little unsure of themselves and help them form their own group of cool kids.

She kept snacks in her desk for kids who couldn’t afford to bring or buy their own.

At least once or twice a year, I write articles on the school’s archery team because the instructor gives me updates when they do well at a competition. Some of these students aren’t interested in the extracurricular activities that often bring attention, but the adults at their school make sure that they receive equal recognition.

Every morning, I see one of the school’s custodians greet children with a smile as she directs drop-off traffic. When it rains, she puts an arm around their tiny shoulders and walks them to the door. When she thinks a driver isn’t paying attention, she keeps them by her side until she knows they are not in danger.

Maybe the walk to the car wouldn’t have felt so long on that first day of kindergarten if I had reminded myself that educators are parents, too.

So if your child’s first day of school didn’t go as planned, I’m sorry, but try to believe that it really does get better.

Jennifer Cohron is the Daily Mountain Eagle’s features editor.