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On Your First Day At A New School

It's hard to believe it's time for her to start "real school." Just me and a million other parents across the country, commiserating about our kids growing up and crying into their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that we're up late at night preparing for the next morning.
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My oldest daughter will start Pre-Kindergarten in a couple days.

She'll be going to a different school than the daycare she's attended the last few years.

Everything will be new.

She's four.

She loves watching Disney movies, swimming, wearing dresses, taking bubble baths in my "grown-up" tub, painting, trying to do cartwheels, reading books, building sandcastles, eating watermelon and drinking Shirley Temples (with extra maraschino cherries, of course!) She hates pinto beans, having sunscreen applied and getting her tangly hair brushed.

I don't blame her.

It's hard to believe it's time for her to start "real school."

Just me and a million other parents across the country, commiserating about our kids growing up and crying into their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that we're up late at night preparing for the next morning.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the fall of 2015, about 55 million students attended elementary and secondary schools. Of that figure, 35.2 million were in Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade.

Woah.

That's a whole lotta Crayolas, school buses and number 2 pencils.

A lotta new life chapters opening and old ones closing.

I don't like it.

Not one bit.


I'll kiss you goodbye as I pull away from the drop-off circle, and I'll be wearing my sunglasses with the dark lenses so you won't notice me crying.

The idea of getting older is scary. I can't accept being at a stage in my life where I see friends losing their own parents, there are wrinkles under my eyes, teenagers think I don't understand them and call me "Mrs." and that 1996 was twenty years ago.

I certainly can't accept my children getting older.

While my oldest daughter is my "baby," she's developed into a miniature person who is smart and has feelings and opinions.

When and how did that happen?

Seems like yesterday I was nine months pregnant and ironing the baby clothes I'd bring her home wearing from the hospital and now here I am, ironing her school uniform and getting ready to drop her off at a "big girl school."

It sets me off on an emotional tailspin.

There's so many things I want for her and hope for her and dream for her and pray for her.

And I feel conflicted between putting her out in the world to be her own person, letting her make mistakes, and learning valuable lessons and wanting to keep her inside our sheltered home forever and ever.

So.

This is what I want to tell her:

On your first day at a new school...

I'll help you put on your outfit, socks, and shoes that we carefully laid out the night before.

I'll make sure your backpack has everything it needs to get you through the first day: pencils, crayons and colored markers. And I hope your heart will feel good when you reach inside and finds a note from 'ole Mom telling you that I love you and am proud of you.

I'll make sure you have a hearty, healthy breakfast, but will probably give in when you ask for a glass of chocolate milk.

Just this once.

On your first day at a new school...

I'll kiss you goodbye as I pull away from the drop-off circle, and I'll be wearing my sunglasses with the dark lenses so you won't notice me crying.

I'll pull over alongside the road where you can't see me, just so I can watch you grab your teacher's hand and walk inside the building.

On your first day at a new school...

I hope you'll keep your head up in class and use brave words if you're feeling scared.

I hope you have someone to sit next to in the cafeteria at lunch and that the other kids are nice to you.

I hope you have so much fun making arts and crafts that you don't worry about getting paint on your school clothes.

On your first day at a new school...

I hope you get sweaty and dirty at recess because that's what kids are supposed to do.

I hope your teacher is patient if you're having a hard time with the transition.

I hope you love whatever book your teacher reads at circle time and can't wait to get home and tell me all about it.

On your first day at a new school...

I hope you comfort a friend who is feeling sad and wants his or her own mom and dad.

I hope if you miss me, you know it's only a matter of time before you'll see me waiting for you when it's time to go home...

... and when you're home, you tell me about all the new friends you've made, things you learned, and how you can't wait to go back tomorrow.


I hope you'll keep your head up in class and use brave words if you're feeling scared.

On your first day at a new school...

When I'm at work, I'll close the door to my office so my colleagues don't hear me sniffling.

I'll drink ten cups of coffee so I can focus on the task at hand, when I'm really just thinking about you and wondering how your day is going.

I'll remember to soak in the moment because while the first day of school might be hard to get through, June will be here before we know it, another summer will come and go, and it will be time to do it all over again.

Thinking about the moms and dads out there who are emotionally preparing for the first day of school in the coming days.

Cheers!

Jennifer Burby is a Tampa-based attorney and blogger. This post recently appeared on Jennifer's parenting and lifestyle blog, The Champagne Supernova. Follow along by liking her Facebook page.