My sister texted and called me this morning with the simple message, “Happy Mother’s Day.” She was jumping for joy as she sent off her three adorable and active young boys to their first day of school. I sent two of mine off today, and I will admit, I was probably more excited than they were about the start of a new school year. Admit it, parents, you were too.
The day that many children head forward to school across North America is exciting, wonderful, terrifying, happy and sad all rolled up into one. The day after Labour Day is a sure sign that summer is coming to a close and that summer vacation is definitely over. But the end of one chapter is the start of another.
The final couple of weeks (or more in some cases) can be challenging for parents, as many of us balance childcare with a demanding and busy career. Routines and bedtimes are out the window, kids have too much free time, the house becomes messy and no one behaves. I was ready for the first day of school last week.
My kids did not wake up early, eager and excited for the day ahead, today. I had to rouse them from a deep sleep this morning, and they meandered downstairs more like zombies than kids about to embark on their first day of a new school year. The baby was perky and was definitely ready to have the house back to herself.
Lunches and school bags were loaded, breakfast was consumed and off we went, the whole family, to drop off the two big kids for their first day of school. Matthew has hit the age when he is embarrassed to show affection towards his father in public and asked me to drop him off in his classroom. Julia hung on to my hand like we were stuck together with Gorilla Glue.
The school hallways were packed with parents, teachers and students, all trying to find their way to their classrooms. It was hard to move more than a few steps without stopping to say hello to a friend or trip over a toddler. The mood was definitely boisterous.
It can be overwhelming for a child of any age to walk into his or her new classroom on the first day of school. My children go to a small, wonderful school, in downtown Toronto, called Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School (more about this great school in a future post), where there is one class per grade. I often call it a village in the middle of a huge city. All the children know each other, all the teachers know all the children and many of the parents know each other too.
Walking into Paul Penna every morning is like coming home to a big family. There is something comfortable and comforting, and I think my children know that. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t have those first day jitters when they entered their classrooms this morning.
Who am I sitting with? Where is my desk? Will my friends greet me warmly? Will my teacher like me? Where do I put all my stuff? So many questions cross the minds of children on their first day of school. That leap into a new classroom, in a new grade, can definitely be jarring. I believe that after a few minutes, for my children at least, once they hugged their friends, found their desk and put their stuff away most of the nerves disappeared.
My kids will be home in a couple of hours from their first day of school. I am looking forward to hearing about their day and getting them ready for their second day of school. A new school year has begun, hurray! Happy Mother’s (and Father’s) Day!