Today is a milestone for our family. Both of our boys started school, (Danny kindergarten and Benji pre-school), and as is to be expected, this has conjured up some emotions. We seem to have a good mix of friends with kids of varying ages, so I've been having different conversations about how hard it is to transition--whether sending your "baby" out the door to when they are really young or to start college. I think that the one thing both have in common is that we as parents are asked to trust.
Trust that the school we are sending our children to is safe and engaging. Trust that our child will listen and learn and make good decisions. And trust that we've not sheltered them so much that they are unable to cope and adjust to this thing called real life.
But I also think there is something else that discomfits us even more than this question of trust. It's this question of pain.
What parent in his or her right mind wants to cause their child pain? And yet as we walk out the door of the school or wave goodbye to a bus on that first day, we know that even if they seemed okay, there will come a time in moments, hours or days that they will miss us so much they will ache. Real and actual internal pain. And the only place in the world they will want to be is enveloped in our arms as we cradle them and assure them that everything is going to be okay.
But we won't be with them in that moment. And I kind of hate that.
If we/they are lucky, they will be consoled by teachers or peers or friends, and their pain will start to recede like the ocean's tide.
But for those of us who sent them off, the specter of that pain does not recede far from our psyches. We are the ones anxiously eying the clock on these first days. Imagining our child trying to navigate a whole new world without, well, us. Ridiculous right?
Both Danny and Benji make us so proud. They are bright and social and funny and I know on some level that they will be just fine. It's just all the other levels I struggle with a bit ;-)
For the record, Danny is starting his 3rd year at a charter school in our neighborhood. He is surrounded by teachers he knows and virtually all of the same classmates he's had. For him it was like "old home week" heading back. He seemed so happy and as we stayed for opening activity, it was clear to see that he was behaving well, confident and listening well to his teachers. Of the two boys he's more introverted in some ways I'd say, so going into this very familiar world was comforting for all of us.
Benji, (whom I'd describe as a bit more extroverted) on the other hand went today for the first time to a school where he knows no one. He's only two so I'm not even sure if he remembers the tour we took a few months ago. It's a lovely pre-school, and he was so sweet meeting his teachers this morning. He was not at all happy to see us say good-bye, and frankly he's the one I'm most anxious about. Maybe I'm projecting a bit though. I went to a new elementary school every year when I was a kid and it was hard to be the new kid. All the other kids where Benji started today have been together already for weeks (or longer). Anyway, I am going to optimistically predict that he will do well. He has pretty darned advanced language skills for being only 32 months old, so maybe we'll try to interview him on camera tonight and make a video of his story of his first day.
I am praying today that both boys have great days and that come tomorrow, both will be excited about returning. If not, that's a battle I don't even want to think about! Hasta la vista. -Monica