He is bursting with excitement as he waits impatiently for the first day of school, and checks daily to make sure his brand-new backpack is still hanging in the hall closet. He talks about what you will teach him, and he has the sweetest smile when he practices raising his hand to answer questions around the dinner table.
You don’t know me yet either, Mrs. M, but I apologize in advance if I seem overly keen and wide-eyed (or anxious and unsure) as I get my footing as an elementary school parent.
I just turned 32, but I still sometimes feel like I’m in school myself, masquerading as a grown-up. I will try to keep it together as I delight in signing permission slips and bringing in class snacks and chaperoning field trips.
When I clutch my son’s hand on Thursday morning and see the big yellow bus screech to a halt in front of the sidewalk, I’ll probably be crying. I’ll hug him tightly and take dozens of pictures of that dazzling, excited grin. I’ll kiss his palms like the mommy raccoon in The Kissing Hand and then release him to walk up those big black stairs — where he’ll sit in a seat without a five-point harness or even a seatbelt.
I’ll resist the urge to jump in my minivan and follow the bus all the way to the elementary school, because I know you’ll be waiting on the other end, Mrs. M. I’ll squeeze my eyes shut and take a deep breath, and remind myself that you will be there to lead him to the classroom and watch over him. I’ll walk back home and try to work, but I won’t be able to stop wondering how his day is going.
In between phone calls and deadlines, I’ll picture my sweet boy sitting in your classroom and shyly raising his hand. I’ll hope he’s remembering his manners and that he wipes his mouth with a napkin after lunch. I’ll know that you’re making sure he’s having a fun first day at his big new school, and you’ll be the one to safely lead him back to the bus when the bell rings.
I admit that my stomach will be twisting nervously as I wait for that big yellow bus to bring my first-born baby back. My shoulders will drop in relief as soon as I spot that familiar grin, and I’ll hug him and kiss his hair and ask him a million different questions about his first day. He’ll make me laugh as he starts each answer with “Like …” and “Probably …” which is how he talks when he’s trying to act grown up.
And then, we’ll do it all again the next day.
You will be the most important non-family grown-up in their lives — the one who finds the balance between letting them know they are special but also that the world doesn’t revolve around them alone. You will be the teacher that gets our son started on a road that will take 13 years to complete — 23 years if he becomes an orthodontist like I’m recommending.
Thank you in advance for taking good care of my little person, and I’ll try not to be too giddy and/or annoying on Parent Night.