Saturday, August 30, 2008

First Day of School #2

For veterans of the classroom, the first day of school can be memorable. I remembered the one year my 50th birthday fell on the first day of school. I warned my colleagues not to put ONE BLACK BALLOON in my classroom. You need to have quiet calm in the classrom on the first day of school. It may be the last day of calm for the rest of the year, so why complicate things with balloons in the classroom? It would set the tone for the entire year. They complied, but got back at me later that week!

For a former elementary school principal, the first day of school brings back special memories of things that need to be done. Is the school clean? Do I have all my teachers? Is there toilet paper in the bathrooms? Why am I so tired? (Could be I stayed up til 2 am typing that last draft of the parent handbook!) Will the cook fix something the kids will eat? (Chicken nuggets instead of casserole, that will start things off well!) Will someone register at the last minute and will we have enough books and chairs? What about that kindergartener who just can't say good-bye to mom and screams for her for 2 hours? And what about those moms who are out on the parking lot, crying their own set of tears as their little darlings move into another realm, that of being a full time student instead of "Mommy's little darling" hanging around home?

But now, I'm moving into a new circumstance. My little grandchildren are starting school! My oldest little grandson started kindergarten this year, riding the schoolbus and everything. Mom and Dad (they live far away from me, unfortunately) reported that everything went well. My second set of little grandkids are starting preschool this year. My daughter is nervous, and so is grandma! Will they get along with others? Will they like bringing their lunch and eating it at school? Will we get a call to come and get them if they throw a tantrum? (Still a threat of that once in a while!) Will Grandma remember what night is her night for pick up duty? Lots of questions swirl through my mind!

The preschool is right next door to my house, and has been in business for a very long time! These teachers are VETERANS! Remember that I told you I worked with some wonderful teachers at the Y in the 80's? Well, one of those wonderful ladies is still teaching at this preschool today! So I feel so great turning my grandkids over to her! She started teaching with me the year after my daughter finished preschool, so she didn't teach her, but I did teach her son. So it sort of comes full circle.

As veteran teachers, I know they've seen it all! Shy, bold, smarty-pants, cutie-pies, know-it-alls, and can't quite get its, all manner of students have darkened their doors! They've seen the glue-eaters, the erstwhile barbers, who try out their scissors skills by cutting a classmates hair! And wet pants, and beautiful paintings, and kids growing and changing day by day!

We attended "back to school night" last Thursday. Those veteran teachers could spot the "new parents" right away, and they took my daughter under their wing right away! They reassured us both that "everything will be OK, the kids will love it!" My daughter was smiling a little bit by the time we left, I think some of the apprehension was leaving her body. And I felt better about things myself!

So next week is the first day of school for both the grandchildren and their mom! She will probably cry her own brand of tears, bittersweet tears as evidence of her great parenting skills, having prepared her kids to move into a new experience. For all of my children they realize that time is passing quickly. Their children's years as toddlers have passed, and now their years as preschoolers and kindergarteners and real school have begun. As parents, they will begin that journey that all parents go down, each first day of school will bring its own set of joy and sadness!

We have family photos of the kids, standing in front of the garage door in their "first day of school clothes". We repeated this ritual over and over again, and as they inched up year by year, the panels on the garage door were a measure of their growth. Hopefully, my kids will record this momentous occasion of their own children with some sort of photo, so we will cherish these mementos for years to come.

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