For part of the country, the school year has already started but in the northeast, parents are putting the finishing touches on preparing their young ones for entry or reentry into academic life. Personally, it marks my son’s first day of school and I’m full of pride and terror.
While veteran parents see the first day of school as one of the most relieving times of the year, I can’t front on my nerves. As a stay-at-home dad, I’ve spent the last four years teaching, nurturing and bonding with my little dude and now it’s time for him to take his first step into a world where he must make his own decisions. I
get that in Pre-K, most of those decisions will only include which color crayon to use but my parental paranoia vibrates harder when I wonder what will happen when he gets into his first fight? Even worse, how will we deal with his first day when he’s crying his eyes out for me when I leave him? I think the latter will be the biggest test for both of us.
I sought advice from a number of parents and they all told me the first day is the most difficult for both child and parent. But after about two weeks or so, it gets way easier. Every parent I spoke to promised that I’d finally be able to catch up on the sleep I needed after years of waking up to impromptu playtime or juice box requests.
That I’ll be able to get more work done or just enjoy some quiet time alone. I look forward to all that but still find it hard to imagine being able to concentrate while worrying about what’s going on with him. Fighting the urge to check on him every 10 minutes will be a feat in itself and I don’t want to be that parent.
On the other hand, I know that my son will be in a good school that will prepare him for the world. It’ll instill pride in himself and his people. On our first tour of the school, I noticed in one of his classes, a class-made poster celebrating Blacks in technology.
I didn’t even get that type of confidence boost in high school. On my first day of high school, I had to take a quiz that would recommend the best career for me. The results were that I should pursue a career as a cab driver. Nothing wrong with driving a cab but what a fail at encouraging greater ambitions. Knowing that my kid will become more aware of his options at such an early age gives me some comfort.
As I scroll through my social media timeline, I see many of my peers starting families who will eventually go through the same thing. All of the worry about safety, learning ability and social integration is new terrain and it’s a lot like starting over yourself.
The best thing about school, aside from the unfamiliar environment and social insecurity, is the feeling you get from learning new things and accomplishing goals (especially the tough ones). Then there’s the fun of going on field trips, making new friends then beating those friends in video games. Then, of course, the eventual love interests.
I think I’ll still keep a box of tissues on my desk, just in case.
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