To all the parents sending their kids off for the first time. Whether you are sending them off to pre-school, kindergarten, junior high, high school or college, take a breath. They’ll be okay. You’ve prepared them for this.
Let me warn you, the first day your little one straps on a backpack that is almost as big as them and walks into their pre-school classroom is as difficult as moving them into their dorm room 15 years later. As parents, we anticipate each “stage” with trepidation.
A few weeks ago, our family was vacationing in the mountains of Colorado and we went zip-ling. It was the first time my husband and I had done anything with just our adult daughters in about ten years. We strapped on harnesses and followed the two guides down a trail and up a ladder to a platform. We worked our way across small “practice” zip-lines to the mother of all courses.
We crossed two suspension bridges spanning a deep and wide canyon and ended on a small platform 500 feet up in the air. Seven of us crammed onto the platform before the lead guide took off across the canyon. I lost visual site of him but heard his holler as he zipped to the next perch. I squinted hard to search out the next perch we would be zipping to next.
The targeted perch was a “floating” platform jutting out and anchored into granite walls of the canyon. We were getting ready to leave a platform 500 feet up in the air, glide 1800 feet along a wire across a huge canyon to a structure we could barely see.
No biggie! None at all!
I watched the guide clip my oldest daughter onto the zip-line and then she stepped off of the platform. And then another daughter and another.
As I watched them go, there was a momentary thought that maybe my husband and I should have gone first. Just to make sure it was safe.
It was a momentary thought because I have zip-lined a few times and knew the process of hooking the carabineers safely onto the wire. I watched each time the guides unhooked and hooked my girls. As a family, we have hiked the mountains, boated, nearly died on an ATV ride, gone white water rafting and visited amusement parks. The girls have come to expect something other than calm vacations.
I trained my girls to be brave and resilient. You have trained your toddler for preschool. You’ve trained your pre-teen for middle school (as much as anyone can be prepared for the brutal years of mid-school hell. But that is a whole other topic.) You’ve trained your teen for high school and your young adult for college.
That doesn’t mean they won’t need you. They will need you. And you will be there for them. You’ll hug them when they come home from pre-school tired and cranky. You’ll assure them of your love as they deal with middle and high school drama, heartache and disappointment. And you’ll answer the phone or text from your college kid – and maybe stand in the middle of the store listening to them sob.
I couldn’t zip across the canyon in tandem with my girls. They had to go by themselves. Much like I watched my kids leap off of the platform and sail across the canyon, you will let them go – but your heart will go with them.
Whether you are helping your toddler strap on their first backpack or leaving your child in a tiny dorm room with a plastic mattress on a bunk bed, know you have prepared them. Trust you have prepared them well. And know you will keep preparing them…for the next stage.
When you walk, you won’t be held back; when you run, you won’t stumble.
Take hold of my instructions; don’t let go. Guard them, for they are the key to life.
How was “your” first day at school mom or dad? Did you do okay?
My oldest is about to go on his first camping trip with Boy Scouts. I am not prepared for this but I know he will be fine! Thank you for your encouragement.
You may not be prepared but my guess he is.
Cindy Chen says
I so enjoyed reading this story.
I love the first day of school. Fortunately two of my 3 who go to school love it, too. The third one is fine with school, she just wishes it started at 11 am.
Hey, I’m not against that, either.
Now, I’ve only ever done elementary and preschool first days yet. I’ll come back to reread this next year when we start middle school.