A Parent’s Lament on the First Day of School

Like it was yesterday, I can remember the typical first day of the school year. It was always a slightly terrifying experience. Which makes no sense because I went to school in a very small town. Each year, the same 45 to 50 kids that I’d been with the year before gathered in the new classrooms we’d been assigned and we’d start the whole process over again. But something about leaving the safety of my home following a summer of never having to was scary.

If anyone would have told me back then that the first day of school would be even harder for me as an adult, I’d have said they were crazy. But with my children starting school today, I now know better.

I have a daughter starting eighth grade. Eighth grade is horrible. Sending her to eighth grade is almost the equivalent of asking her to cross a busy emotional freeway with cars speeding past at 80 miles and hour + and wishing her luck on getting safely to the other side. I remember thinking when I was in junior high that if my parents knew half of what went on at my school, and the things people said to each other in that environment, they would never let me go back. Now this morning, I hugged her and sent her off the same way my parents did. It makes me feel a little nauseous. 

Both of my boys are tenderhearted, kind and all-around good kids. In some ways I’m thrilled. That’s exactly what we’ve tried to raise them to be. But as my well-intentioned son prepared to walk out the door this morning, more excited about taking the state capitals test than any kid who doesn’t want to be labeled in some way should be, I couldn’t help but see a tender young zebra walking completely unprepared into the middle of the African pride lands with hungry lions on every side. In the real world of school, nice doesn’t always play well. Thankfully, he has some good friends. So if they get eaten, maybe they’ll get eaten together.

Finally, my second son is a sweet kid who just never seems to have any boys his age available to him to play with. He’s entering second grade and has yet to really connect with a best friend. I remember him telling me last year that he spent several recesses walking around the school by himself. It broke my heart. He seems to think it’s perfectly fine, but I just wanted to march down to that school and shake some sense into a few six year old boys heads. I’m sure that would have gone over well. And in no way would have resulted in my lifetime ban from the Jack Daley Primary school.

With all of these things on my mind, today has been a little tough. I just want to go home and make sure they all made it back safe…and happy.

I don’t necessarily try to derive religious connotation from all of my daily occurrences, but I do have to admit that my anxiety caused me to think. Is it possible that God feels this way about letting us come to this less than hospitable place called Earth? If so, I feel bad for Him. Because today’s first day of school was the worst I have ever experienced. And I didn’t even set foot on the campus.

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