In Canada, most schools start on the first week of September. So, naturally, back to school stuff starts circulating in about mid-July, about three weeks after school lets out for the summer. Never too early, right? This year, back to school had more meaning for me than in years past: this year, for the first time, one of my kids was heading off to kindergarten. Ben was excited (and I was too) when we started seeing the first signs of back to school sales floating around.
But at the same time as the back to school signs started going up in stores, the back to school Facebook posts started circulating as well. This year, “A Mother’s 1st Day of School Prayer” seemed to be the thing on all my friends’ Facebook feeds. You may have seen it:
And below it would be comments – often dozens – of my fellow kindergarten moms: “OMG, I know! I’m already in tears thinking about the first day.” Or moms of kids who were already in school: “I still cry on the first day of school. Every time!”
Aside from the furious protestation from the poetry geek in me – rhythm and meter, people, they’re important! – I found it hard to read this post, and the comments it generated, because I didn’t feel the way all of these moms said they were feeling. I was excited for Ben’s first day – for him, and for me. I was looking forward to it – no hesitations, no tears, no fears.
Oh, sure, I felt the usual little worries. What if he had trouble finding his class, or if he didn’t get along with his teacher, or if he got upset or nervous while he was there. And sure, a part of my brain was looking on in awe: “He’s in school already? He’s getting so big!” But I wasn’t weepy, or fearful, or dreading how fast the day was approaching.
Since I hadn’t taken the step yet of putting my son on that bus and waving goodbye as he headed off to school, I didn’t feel like I could say that I wasn’t going to cry. For all I knew, I’d be in buckets of tears as the bus pulled away. Saying I wouldn’t cry felt like being pregnant and declaring that all colicky babies can be soothed if their parents learn some simple techniques: it’s an invitation for disaster.
Well, on September 2, I put my son on that big yellow bus. And now I can say it: I didn’t cry on my son’s first day of kindergarten.