Ah… the first day of school. My favourite time of year. New beginnings. New routines and opportunities. For me this year, it also meant getting my kids off to a good start in Grade 1 and SK at their new school.
We got cool new backpacks. I filled their lunches with a special “We love you” heart-shaped note. (I thought I’d make it from me and their dad, but I did stand there debating for some time before I wrote it.) Their pencil cases were filled with pointy new pencil crayons and pencils. And of course, I asked their dad if he would join us for our kids’ big day.
I thought it would be fun to walk, but since it was raining, we jumped into his car and drove to the school parking lot. The boys were nervous. I was glad there were two of us to hold their hands and reassure them that everything would be ok. The truth was, we were just as lost and nervous as they were. But at least we were together. At least we could shrug our shoulders at the other since we really didn’t know anyone else to shrug at. We managed to drop Josh, our SK-er, off at his class first. He walked straight in and didn’t look back. It was like he had accepted his fate and was headed to the electric chair. Anyway, it was one down, one to go.
Ari, our more anxious son, spent the morning nervously chewing the handle of his new bag. This drop off was going to be more challenging.
“Would you like us to swing you? If we swing you, you have to promise not to cry,” Ari’s dad told him.
Holding both our hands, Ari swung himself into the air. I was caught off guard. We hadn’t been a pair for so long that I didn’t realize I was going to be involved in the swinging. Even swinging was something we could each do solo, by grabbing our kids under the armpits with both our hands and twirling them around. But here we were, just like old-old times, with our son’s hands in ours swinging him along the pavement.
When it was time to drop Ari off at the sound of the bell, I gave his hand to a teacher’s and told her to please take care of him.
“He’s very nervous and doesn’t know where to go,” I told her. “Please take his hand and don’t let go.”
Ari’s dad and I turned around and started walking toward the parking lot.
“Don’t look back,” he told me. We kept moving forward.
When we had gotten far enough I could finally breathe. “We did it,” I told him.
But we hadn’t. Not really. He got into his car to go to work, and I walked back to my home.
Later in the day, Josh’s teacher asked that we send in a family photo to decorate his cubby. I texted his dad to ask what to do. Send an old family photo? That would be weird. Send in one just of Josh and Ari—something my divorced friend did for her daughter’s first day of class. I decided to send in one of me and the kids and one of the kids and their dad. That way, their teacher would get the unspoken message, and Josh’s cubby would reflect a lot of love, but also his reality. I filled out all the requisite forms—with separate addresses for me and their dad and different last names. And then it was done. The first few obstacles handled as well as they could be.
I’m still excited for this new school year.
It’s going to be okay.