The first day

Just dropped off my kids for the first day of elementary school.

My daughter is a veteran—she’s in third grade. My son’s a rookie—kindergarten.

I always have mixed emotions this time of year. On the one hand, I’m happy. Happy to see my kids progressing and maturing. Happy to have more free time (it’s been a loooooong summer). Happy for the leaves to change and the air to become crisp and the sounds of laughter to be emerging from the school playground.

But, as much as anything, I’m sad.

My kids are growing up. They’re still kids; still little. But not as little. And no matter how many times people warn you, “Pay attention—it goes so fast,” well, you can’t possibly pay enough attention to prevent the hours and days and weeks from zipping by like little comets. Soon it’ll be next week. Then next month. Then next year. My daughter is halfway to 16; a decade removed from college. How did that happen? Wasn’t I bringing her home from the hospital, like, a month ago?

Whenever I whine to my dad about the passage of time he always snaps, “Beats the alternative.” Which is true.

So, time, don’t stop.

Just take a nap for a few minutes. OK?

4 thoughts on “The first day”

  1. I have a daughter who is now in the third grade and a son in first grade and I can completely agree. For me, it’s bittersweet, but more sad. Each day, month, year means they’re less innocent and forced to deal with stuff that we (I’m 40) didn’t have to deal with this early. Profanity, bullying, etc. It’s the way the world is, but as a parent, it’s difficult to see it happening earlier and earlier. Ugh. Great post, Jeff.

  2. Jeff, I really feel your pain.

    Last week, my wife and I dropped off our daughter at college (and had to rush back because of Irene), and the emotion of the two really got to me.

    As proud as I am of her, and the young woman she’s becoming, I would still give anything to have her be the little girl she used to be, hanging on everything I said and did, just one more day…

  3. Jeff,

    Just did the same thing this morning (Grade 2 + kindergarten). Amazing to see the changes of their friends just over the summer. yet sad at the same time to know they are growing up and eventually our importance to them, on a day to day basis, is dwindling at a rate so slow we’ll only notice when they leave and return only periodically. Parenting: best and sometimes, the worst, job in the world.

  4. My son started kindergarten today. I guess I’m looking at it from a different angle. Yes, he’s not the little kid he once was, and yes, I’m going to miss some of the things we did when he was younger. I miss some of them already.

    I’m looking at it this way- he’s wanted to ride a school bus for 2-3 years now. Since he was first aware, he’d always make sure everyone knew a school bus was coming if he saw one. Today, he got to ride his school bus for the first time. He’s also been wanting to go to school for about that long. We almost enrolled him in pre-school, and he was so excited to check things out when we visited. He’s been excited to meet his teacher, meet new friends, do new things, etc., and, today, he gets to do that. That whole journey of his starts today, and I cannot be more excited and proud of him.

    As I’ve thought about today, I liken it to the families of minor leaguers working hard to get to the majors, and today he got the call, he’s ‘playing in the majors’, which he’s dreamed about for the last couple years. I cannot wait to hear how he did today, and am excited to get the call from his teacher tonight to tell us from her vantage point how he did (she has committed to calling us and every other family every night this week and some next week).

    Yes, he has tough stuff coming, and a lot of work for everyone is coming up this year. All those bad things are coming, and I hope he’s affected minimally. But ultimately, this is a great time coming up, and I’d rather celebrate his progression than lament it.

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