Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Short Post About the First Day of School

I want to raise independent kids. I want my kids to hold on to me when they need my hand, but I also want them to know that when the time comes, I expect them to let go, take a long look at the incredible world around them, and march forward, strong and self-contained, boldly taking on the adventure of life.

I just didn't expect it to happen to my girl before her third birthday.

On the first day of school, my wife, my daughter, and I navigated our way through groups of clinging toddlers and their parents. It was understandable. It was touching. It was normal. It was hard for the kids to see their parents abandon them at this unfamiliar location, and it was hard for the parents to overcome the guilt of abandonment.

And we weren't immune to that guilt. She was a baby! She needed us! Were we making a terrible mistake? Was it too soon? Was she going to be traumatized?

I looked at my wife and she looked at me. "We can still turn back," we told each other without saying a word. All we needed was a hint of desperation from our daughter, and we would have been back in the car in less than 60 seconds.

Our daughter, though, wasn't standing next to us. She wasn't holding on to (or hiding behind) our legs. She was moving from one table to another, from one teacher's lap to another. She was building Lego towers and pushing them down, singing songs, skipping, and introducing herself. When we said goodbye, she said, "Bye," without even lifting her head.

I want to raise independent kids, don’t get me wrong, and I want them to let go when they're ready to let go, but the thing is--I'm not sure I'm ready to let go just yet...

First Day of School
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  1. Letting go is always the hardest part. The problem as a parent is that there are just way too many times when we have to let go and trust they will be OK.

  2. Letting go is a hard lesson in parenting. One that will be repeated many times throughout life's journey.

  3. I remember so clearly 33 years ago taking my toddler to nursery and going home to wait for the phone to ring to come and get him because he was so distraught. The fact that he hardly looked up when I left should have been a clue that the call was never coming! These are the first instances of letting go but there are many more to come. Best of luck!

  4. Thanks! She accidentally pushed someone today, and I made her apologize, but she'd only do it if I came with her and she could hold my hand. I might still be needed after all... (and it was really cute.)

  5. I know... At least it's gradual, though.

  6. I kind of knew she would be fine, but would it hurt her to cry for 10 minutes on the first freakin' day???

  7. I, for one, am glad on the first day of school. My youngest, kid #5, starts preschool in September. I still get wistful and misty-eyed, but am ultimately glad they are taking that next step in their lives. I've had some cry, and some not turn around to say goodbye and they run in through the door. The latter is much better, actually.

  8. I know. After the first couple of weeks, we had to go away for a week, and when we came back and she wasn't used to school, she did cry. It lasted only one day, though...



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