Lately, my Facebook feed has been flooded with pictures and commentaries regarding the first day of school. Inevitably, those moms and dads who send their kids to school for the first time share their raw emotions as they bid farewell to their little buddies and princesses, entrusting them to a teacher, a bus driver, a system. It is not uncommon to see #criedinthecar as friends process this next stage of parenting.
Last year, we put our kindergarten son on the bus and promptly got in the car and followed him to school. We wanted to make sure he made it from the bus to the school in one piece. Like other parents, we followed at a distance—trying to give him space, but wanting desperately to hold his hand as he entered into this next stage of life. We took pictures of him lining up. We smiled and waved. We took pictures of his name plate, his coat hook, his cubby, his desk, his teacher. He was ready. The questions was—were we? Was I ready to hand my son over to the education system and this woman who would be a powerful influence on him?
We left the classroom and said a little prayer for our son, his classmates, and his teacher. I didn’t go into the car and cry. I wondered if something might be wrong with me , since every other friend was a hot mess after dropping their kids off at school. Instead, I was excited. I was excited for all things new that our son was about to experience. I was excited for him to jump on the education bandwagon and to watch where it was going to take him. The sky is the limit, and my boy was getting his first glimpse.
Did I worry that he might get bullied? Of course! I worried that he wouldn’t sit still. I worried that he might not get along with the teacher. I worried that other kids would be mean to him. I worried that he might be mean to other kids. I worried that he’d forget to drink water throughout the day. I worried that I’d get a call from the school saying he punched some kid on the nose. A thousand worries. All for nothing.
My son came home that first day, exhausted but loving every minute of school. His teacher was magical. His eyes were opening up to the world around him in ways that we, as parents, couldn’t offer.
That was last year. A different school. A different country. When we only had one child in the system. This year my son and daughter are both in school. My daughter is a totally different character from her brother. She couldn’t care less about her ABCs or counting to 20. She’s more interested in the antics of her classmates and telling made up stories.
So, here we are at the start of new academic year. A new adventure. One for my son. One for my daughter. I still worry. I worry about both of them, but today we took time to pray as a family. We paused, if only for a few minutes. We stopped and we thanked our Jesus for the opportunity to learn. We thanked our God for access to free education. We prayed for safety for our children. We prayed for the friends that they would make; that those friends would be a good influence on our children. We prayed for their teachers and for a special connection to occur this year.
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “the days are long, but the years are short.” I’m fully immersed in the days are long part, but the start of each school year seems to mark the passing of time in a special and unique way. I hope that, as our children grow, we face each school year with excitement and enthusiasm. I hope our children value life-long learning the same way my husband and I do. I hope they strive for greatness and whatever that looks like for each of them. For now, though, I just want them to get a good night’s sleep so we can start again tomorrow.
Katrina (Spencer ’00), and her husband Marc (’00), recently relocated back to Katrina’s hometown of Belleville, Ontario. Marc pastors, Katrina teaches (occasionally), and their three kids keep them hopping. They are all about finding joy in the journey.