I already saw one this week that made me cry, and I've never met the towheaded boy who was headed off to kindergarten, right after he shrugged his little sister off his shoulder and stuffed the sign his mom made him hold for the camera. By virtue of raising our children in the South, we launch the wave of back-to-school pictures that graffiti Facebook walls. In a month, we will glance at our New England counterparts like they've just been the frivolous grasshopper playing his fiddle, while we carpenter ants down here in Tennessee soldier on, getting ready for school.
Oh, those requisite First Day Pictures for the Social Media's Pleasure.
Here is what I want to see: the pictures of the parents taking the pictures. Posturing their children to appear a certain temperament, or frowning at the uniform that was so well-fitting at the end of last school year, or at the outfits chosen for first day impressions.
I will spare you the picture of me. I haven't slept all week--and I am a person who values sleep! I've been so anxious about this school year beginning and all of the ramifications therein that I haven't slept. Last night? Not a wink. I finally decided at 4:30a.m. to put on my clothes and hit the gym.
I have a kindergartener this year. My kid. Not the one I babysit. Mine. My child. That one I gave birth to last week and brought home from the hospital in her snuggly onesie yesterday.
Baby Girl starts kindergarten this week. Ok, so I should spare myself some of the theatrics. My kid is in the same classroom she's been in for two straight years already, with the same delightfully gifted teacher who invented early education as far as I am concerned. I have no worries about this situation and neither does Baby Girl. But oh that adrenaline of the first day! The anticipation! The jitters! The smell of gluesticks that smacks you immediately when the doors of knowledge fling open!
My heart was quieted tonight as I found one of my favorite passages in a favorite book of mine that every parent should read. My boyfriend sent it to me during his last semester of college. My boyfriend with whom I share that baby who's going to kindergarten.
Now for a word from our sponsor, 1-800-SENTIMENTAL-MUCH?
The author writes to his son's teachers present and future:
If you only knew how nervous we all are, I thought. How hopeful we are that you will be kind, that this isn't something you've grown tired of doing, that our children will soar with you and not in spite of you, that they will still believe it all when you're done with them--that you will let that be true in their world for this one last year. You could never know how much we hope that you will please, please--to the very depth of all the word means--please, be kind.
- Marc Parent, Believing it All
*** Forthcoming: August 2013 First day portrait.
Here's one to tide you over until then.