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Start of School Brings Joy, Tears

There are still plenty of beach days left, but for some, the first day of school marks summer's end.

The end of summer is often thought to coincide with the start of the school year, but this year's first day of fall isn't until Sept. 23.

A bonus of California living is there are still plenty of sun and beach days left in September. Nevertheless, with school now in session, beach days will be reserved for the weekend.

From the looks on my little girls' faces, they are feeling the loss of summer already—the contrast of emotions our girls are feeling about the "end of summer" and their first day of school is clear.

For the older of our two girls, there are mixed emotions.

She is nervous about the unknown but excited to see the friends she missed over the summer. She will miss staying up later and sleeping in later, but overall she is looking forward to going back to school. She adapts well to change.

For our younger little girl, she is entering a new, big-kid school. She is starting kindergarten, and she has decided she isn't ready. She declared that not only is she not ready to go to big-kid school, but that she isn't a big girl yet—she is a baby.

This is news to me because she has been telling me for months that she isn't a baby anymore, but a big girl who no longer needs naps. I don't buy it. I have seen what the lack of a nap will do to this child.

Plus, I pointed out that when she starts her new school, she would no longer be napping—an incentive for sure. But now the day is here, and to her, kindergarten seems like a really scary place.

As a mother, I, too, am filled with mixed emotions, and I was no different at their ages. I can clearly remember my first day of school for pretty much every grade I entered.

I remember being nervous. I remember feeling anxious, and I remember the fear of the unknown. But now I know all that passes quickly.

When we arrived at school, the kindergartners were already lining up for class. I guided our daughter to where she needed to line up. She had a death grip on my hand, and her eyes were as big as saucers.

I wanted to ask her if she was OK, but I knew better. If I said one word to her, she would start to cry, and so would I. So I hugged and kissed her goodbye and watched her walk into her new classroom with a look in her eyes mirrored by every child there.

Some parents were tearing up while waving to their child. I fought the urge to run and grab her for one more hug and kiss goodbye, knowing that would be a huge mistake.

Reluctantly, I turned to walk our older daughter to class.

She was at a different stage. She was smiling and ready to line up for class. She was excited to see everyone and really excited to see her favorite teacher. I hugged and kissed her goodbye without incident, but inside I felt the second wave of emotions.

Both of our resilient girls made it through the first day without a hitch, just like I knew they would. Although I love the "first day of school" experience, I missed them all day long.

When I asked them about their favorite part of their first day, I listened to their stories, knowing my favorite part of the day was picking them up from school and seeing them after a day that for me, dragged on.

But I wouldn’t trade these priceless moments for the world, even if it means me shedding a tear or two.

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