Those words haven’t meant much to me, since it’s only just this year that my oldest has gone off to Kindergarten. It actually feels a lot like last year, since she did Pre-K. But last year, my friends, was nothing like this year.
I know back to school is about, well, kids going back to school. But it’s also about the teachers and parents too! Mine is fairly independent she hardly turned back around to kiss me goodbye. So since it didn’t seem traumatizing for her, I am left thinking about how it feels for the mamas. Because when you are a new mom, to a new school, with it’s rules (both written and unwritten) it’s overwhelming. I am usually not a very anxious person, but that first week last year just about did me in. I didn’t know where to park, (rather what to do when there were not spots left even though I showed up 15 minutes), I somehow couldn’t keep track of which day was regular uniform and which was PE (and a free color day mixed in there) so my daughter came to school wearing the wrong thing the first four days of class. She of course didn’t even notice, but I actually cried hot and angry tears that fourth day. I also didn’t know if I was allowed to let my other two littler children play on the school playground before school started, because some siblings were and others were not. And regarding packing a lunch, I somehow managed to botch that one too. I didn’t know that recess was actually pretty short, and here I was packing her a 3 course lunch for the day. I finally figured it out when my daughter begged me to not pack so much food because she didn’t have time to eat and play. Yes, she had been missing both recesses every day because she thought she had to eat everything in her lunch. Fail!
But this year was different. And because my head wasn’t stuck up my butt worrying about myself, my daughter, and what on earth was going on, I could actually look up and see what was going on around me.
And it was beautiful.
It was sort of like people watching at the airport, with the long hugs, teary faces, and a little bit of confusion all mixed in. Note: I am in the Pre-K and K section, hence the more abundance of tears. I saw one couple run and take cover behind a tree when they dropped of their little one, close enough to hear if their kid was okay, but most certainly to hide. Another mom I know was putting her 3rd child in Kindergarten, the last one to leave the house, and what a sweet and emotional time for them both. One little girl was crying, just crying and crying and everyone passed her parents with sincere looks of understanding. And of course lots of chatting (both awkward and not as much) catching up with familiar faces you didn’t see over the summer.
And slowly, every single parent got back into their car and left. Some to continue with the regular rhythm of work, others to return to an empty house which hasn’t been empty of little people in the morning time in years and years. Others loitered, probably unsure what to do with this new found freedom. Freedom that as parents we find ourselves feeling simultaneously giddy, sad, apprehensive, and overwhelmed. We don’t know if we want to do a jig all the way back to the car, or cry our eyeballs out. Such a strange feelings this first week of school brings.
So I took some advice of a dear friend, and whispered in my daughter’s ear. I encouraged her to be brave and kind. And to look for someone who might be having a rough day, someone new, someone perhaps a little scared. I remind her to be a sweet friend. And as I told her those things, and kissed her sweet face and sent her into Kindergarten, I couldn’t help but about myself. How I should do the same, walk into my day looking at the moms around me dealing with the same back to school drop off cocktail of emotions, and be kind to them. And tell myself to brave as well. Because going back to school is hard- and amazing- for every student, parent, (and teacher!!) the world over.