What happened to the first day?

Published 12:02 am Friday, August 10, 2012

If I reported on my son Gibson’s first day of school, it would be a short write up.

To be honest, I didn’t get to see much of it. Neither did my wife.

It’s not that we didn’t try.

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For weeks, we have been building up our 3-year old’s anticipation of the first day at a new school.

We took him to buy new school uniforms, school supplies and a brand new pair of shoes. We took him to his new school on orientation day to show him his classroom, introduce him to his teacher and show him the big new playground.

The night before we packed his first school lunch in a lunch box covered in police cars and trucks. We even read a story about the first day of school before he went to bed.

About the only thing we didn’t do was make sure he got a haircut. We just ran out of time.

Thursday morning, we positioned our son on the front porch dressed in his uniform carrying his lunch box for the ubiquitous first day of school photo.

After a couple quick snapshots, we loaded him up in the car and across town for that moment all parents dread.

Will he go to school with tears streaming down his face or will he walk into the classroom and never look back until graduation day?

Most preschool teachers will tell you, it’s not the children who are the problem on the first day of school.

There may be a couple of children who burst into tears at the thought of being left alone in an unfamiliar classroom. Occasionally, a student will grab hold of mom or dad’s leg as they attempt to leave for the car.

The teachers have all of that covered. As soon as mom and dad leave the scene, most of the tears dry up and the fun begins.

The problem for teachers is getting some parents to give that last hug goodbye. By lingering over their children, parents inadvertently make the crying last longer and the heartache worse.

Turns out, some teachers have a solution to the lingering parent problem — don’t let the parents know what hit them.

When my wife and I drove up to the school Thursday morning, we expected that we would walk our son into his new classroom. We had been told that on most mornings a teacher will come to our car, unbuckle our child from his car seat and then escort him to class.

My original intention was to park the car Thursday to take our child to class. Without thinking, I drove the car up to the classroom door. Just as promised, a teacher emerged from the building unbuckled our child and whisked him of to class.

There was no hug, nor kiss goodbye. Were there tears? I have no idea.

Like ripping a bandage off with one quick stroke, that first day of school moment for mom and dad was over in the blink of an eye.

A friend recently pointed out that every parent treasures that first day of school moment. Some like to linger over it.

For others, it happens quickly.

However it happens, parents cherish the moment when their toddlers cross the threshold of life to become students.

After 3-year-old preschool, graduation is not far behind.


Ben Hillyer is the design editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at ben.hillyer@natchezdemocrat.com.