This time of year is commonly called “Back to School” time. Ah! How I have loved it. I have this mismash of memories: the sharp box of crayons all lined up by color, the cut brown and orange leaves hanging on the wall, the course outline printed next to the computer, the syllabus slipped into the front cover of a blank notebook, the snap of a trapper-keeper with a ream of paper and a pencil holder in front. I loved every bit of it. I loved the newness and the fresh start. I loved the office supplies. I loved school. In college, I loved all parts of it: social, cultural and academic all swirling together in one caffeinated delight.
Perhaps one of the things I miss most in my working life is the ‘back to school’ sense. My job is the same: winter and summer. It is never finished or finishable. It doesn’t change. I miss that fresh trapper, new syllabus feeling.
The older you get, the fewer firsts you have. My first day of school, ever, I do not even recall. My first kiss is a dim memory. My first job, apartment, pregnancy, home purchase and production database mistake are all in my past. Today I have another first.
Today is my first first day of school as a parent. Grey started preschool this morning. He’ll be going all day, three days a week. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays he will be a Caterpillar taking his first steps down the path of education. Who knows how far he’ll walk down that path. Will he love it? Take to it like a fish to water? Will he struggle? Will he excel in fields I never considered? He will go into that preschool classroom with a Spongebob blanket for naptime, a command of the alphabet and his own charm. He will fall deeply in love with his teacher, or not. He will make friends. He will make enemies. He will make mistakes. He will make pipe-cleaner art projects we will put proudly on the wall. He will decide he loves school. He will decide he doesn’t. He will go with the flow.
It is too much to say that this is the first step on the path to the rest of his life. He’s already trod down that path. He does know how to read – a little. He knows his alphabet. He can count to sixty before getting bored. He knows how to make friends and play tag. This is just the next step on the path to which his feet have already been set.
But still. This is our first first day of school.