Tag Archives: first day of school

Liberation Day

Yesterday was the first day of school and I’m not gonna lie — I couldn’t push my kids out the door fast enough. Don’t get me wrong. I love the sweet darlings, and we had a great summer of hiking, swimming, road tripping and summer day camping. But after 10 weeks (yes, 10 — the Calgary flood robbed us of four whole days of school) of no structure, “Mommy, watch this!” and bedtimes pushed past 9 p.m., this mommy was ready for a return to sweet routine.

Bennett and Avery were super excited about their first day of school.

Bennett and Avery were super excited about their first day of school.

I was especially excited because this year Bennett is in grade 1 at Renfrew. Translation: full days. I load him on the bus at 8 a.m. and usher him back into the house at 4:30 p.m. I half expect him to head for the Dad chair, ask for the evening paper and order a Manhattan, but today he only said, “I’m hungry,” before devouring a Larabar and a peach.

Bennett boards his bus all smiles on the first day of school.

Bennett boards his bus all smiles on the first day of school.

Full days aren’t new for Avery, so she barely waved goodbye before lining up by the school door with the other grade 3 kids. As soon as she entered the building I skipped back home whistling Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah. Then I locked the dog into her kennel, popped the cork on a bottle of Moet and cheersed myself repeatedly.

Piper is growing up even faster than Avery!

Piper is growing up even faster than Avery!

Is it wrong to feel so euphoric about the children entering this new phase of full day institutionalization? Should I feel sad they are getting bigger and growing up? That there’s less time for free play with them, and more time for me-play? Translation: I can actually compose an e-mail without interruption, and I have long swaths of time for writing stories.

Some of the moms at Avery’s school have mixed emotions about their kids starting full days. They’re giddy about the new freedom while simultaneously grieving the loss of the littleness. And I get it. During particularly sweet moments I often wish I could just freeze time. I think, “I want them to be eight and five forever!” But then they grow and learn more and I’m glad for it because it means we can do more as a family and have better conversations and it just makes life easier for everyone. What’s more, my kids love school. They are as ready to return as I am for them to go back. As I wrote in a previous post, being a parent is, at its core, an act of letting go.

So yesterday, I let go. I waved goodbye, watched the bus drive away, and did a little happy dance. (Full days, people!)

The best back-to-school goody bag ever

Part of the excitement about going back to school is finding out who the teacher is going to be. Sure, kids want to see their friends again, but they wonder if they’ll like the person charged with teaching them how to spell and do subtraction. After all, by the time they’re in Grade 2 they can choose their friends, but not the teacher.

As a parent this relationship is fraught with even more tension. I hope my child’s teacher will be kind and fair, and inspire my daughter to meet her potential. On top of all that, I hope she loves her job; that she thrives on being in a nosiy classroom with my kid every day. A tall order, I know. So I was pretty excited when I met Avery’s teacher. Not only is she young and pretty (traits that will take you far with seven-year-olds), she’s nice. And she loves field trips. And art! It’s a good start.

But what really impressed me was the little cellophane baggie she sent home yesterday with each student. Onto the living room floor Avery dumped out nine stars, one penny, two paper clips, a sticker, an eraser, a pencil, one gold ribbon, a rubber band, a pipe cleaner and a Band-Aid:

These items, along with the note, delivered a great welcome message.

This first-day-of-school goody bag didn’t make sense until we read the note:

I loved this note from Mrs. Pomerleau. I think it’s goint to be a great year!

I love that Avery’s teacher took the time to assemble this welcome bag that packed some important messages to impart to little kids, like remember to do your best, and every child has worth. It gave me a huge warm fuzzy.

I also love that Avery could read the entire note and that she immediately zeroed in on her favourite messages. “I like the gold ribbon, the stars, the eraser and the sticker, Mommy.” For a kid who often strives for perfection, I think Avery was relieved to learn that her new teacher thinks it’s okay to make mistakes as part of learning. Hooray!

I’m sure Avery will periodically forget that hurt feelings go hand in hand with school (and that Band-Aids help all kinds of boo-boos), and she might “stick” better with some classmates than with others, but no matter. I could have sat her down and tried explaining all these points to my seven-year-old. Sometimes though, it’s better to show than tell. Mrs. Pomerleau gets that — she illustrated her points beautifully, in a way that was easy for a Grade 2 student to grasp. I think it’s going to be a great year.