Thursday, August 14, 2008

First Day of School Done

Today, my two lovely daughters kicked off their school year. Always an auspicious day. One filled with excitement, but also a little anxiety. The school my daughters attend have a policy that students will not know their homeroom teacher assignments until the first day of classes. So, that only adds to the mystery and the anxiousness of the first day, as all the kids have their hopes and fears regarding who will be their homeroom teacher.

My oldest daughter, who is the bolder and more confident of the two, was probably much better positioned to accept with a shrug and a positive attitude any disappointments the day might have brought to her. But she hit her jackpot. She got the homeroom teacher she wanted and was happy with the constitution of her homeroom classmates. Furthermore, my oldest daughter is in that enviable position of being at the top of the elementary school grade hierarchy, so she and her classmates can lay claim to top dog leadership among the student body. In fact, she proudly wore her "Lusher Leaders" button on her shirt to school.

It was the younger of the two, though, that got off to a shaky start. She's much more sensitive to and much less equipped to shrug off any disappointments, which, unfortunately, were plentiful for her this morning. First off, she was transitioning from Kindergarten to the First Grade, which is a tougher transition to make because it means that the "real" schooling starts, with homework and higher performance expectations. Also, at her school, Kindergarten classes are always together for every subject, which means that there isn't the experience of seeing new faces and dealing with variable personalities at different times during the day in different subject areas. So, being disconnected from the Kindergarten community she knew well was always going to be challenging for her. We just didn't expect it to be as challenging as it turned out to be. Not only did she not get the teacher she was hoping for, but there was only one of her fellow Kindergarten classmates (and mostly just an acquaintance friend at that) who ended up in her first grade class. So for the first 15 minute or so, that little sensitive lovely was a bit clingy, disconcerted, and wavering in and out of being utterly forlorn or putting on her best face and making a hearty go of it. In situations like that, there is only so much parents can do to help out the adjustment process. Fortunately, although it was touch-and-go for a while, there came that moment when she just, in her own mind, decided to go down the road of hope and make the best of it as positively as she could. Phew! (Of course, it did help that we managed to get the teacher to put the girl she knew from her Kindergarten class in the seat next to her!)

The verdict at the end of the first day was one of all around success. Both had happy faces when I came home from work and were excited about returning to school tomorrow. A very comforting thing to a parent!


Eric said...


Our little girl started 2nd grade on Wednesday. Luckily, she got the teacher she wanted (well, maybe it was luck plus the box of chocolates we sent to the office administrator who assigns teachers...) None of her group of friends are in her class this year, but I am actually pleased with this, because they have all been in the same class together since pre-K, and while all her friends are great kids, they are a little too insular in their social life for my comfort, especially at that age.

I wish there was a word to describe the feeling you get as a parent on the first day of schoo... pride, anxiety, cheer, optimism, and a very deep sadness, all mixed together.

Huck said...

Hey, Eric - Congrats to you and your wife (and your daughter) on a good first day! I wish her a great 2nd grade year.

Yeah, first days of school for kids are, in many ways, just as anxiety-ridden and exciting for parents.

But I chuckled at the "box of chocolates" subtle bribery scheme. I didn't mention this in my posting, but I did something similar with my youngest. I promised her an after-first-day-of-school ice cream treat to celebrate getting through the day. I didn't make this treat conditional on any kind of behavior on her part, but I thought it might have the effect of cheering her a bit and giving her something to look forward to. I think it must have worked because she certainly reminded me of my promise when I got home from work!