It’s back-to-school, and photos and comments are being posted on Facebook and other social media. There was so much buzz along with the excitement and anticipation, I thought Christmas was coming or at least the circus. But, no, it was the first day of school and with it came the preliminary preparation, anticipation and trepidation.
Back-to-school has so many emotion-packed responses. This year carries more than the usual amount of angst with all the challenges teachers and students face. Schools are reinventing themselves in many positive ways and that is what the focus should be.
Some parents let out a cheer. Others get teary eyed. Others will reflect on the wonderful summer vacation and activities. Most will take the inevitable first day of school photos and many will post them. We saw the whole array of emotions on Facebook. Along with the postings came the comments and the comments are worth sharing.
“It’s crazy how fast time goes by. They are in tenth and seventh grade already, where does the time go?”, “The silence is deafening!”, “I managed not to shed a tear yesterday.”, “First day of kindergarten; thank goodness for a sunny day, dark glasses helped hide my feelings.”
There were the traditional photos at the front door. There were photos of getting on the bus, getting off the bus, kissing the baby sister goodbye, kissing the dog goodbye, kissing the summer goodbye. One father’s photo of himself and his high school senior was most poignant. She was laughing and he was tearing up.
Why all this sadness? Isn’t this the day you celebrate? It’s another new year of learning, activities, routines. Well, maybe it’s not routines since many changes have been made to infrastructure and in some cases, curriculum. But they are back in classrooms and with their friends. That’s all good. For now, celebrate the opportunity for the children.
I loved the colorful clothing, the new shoes, new haircuts and new ribbons in the hair. I saw the photos and I saw the smiles. Happy, light-hearted teachers and children who were enjoying the day and the excitement of what was to come. Along with the new shoes and new backpacks, there is a new attitude, and a gratitude to be back and together.
Retired teachers have their own comments of bittersweet feelings. They have made all kinds of plans for their future, but that first week of school many feel conflicted, at a loss, some feel a bit melancholy.
Parents who send their last one off to school also have mixed emotions. One year, a friend showed up on my doorstep in tears at 8:30 a.m. The realization that the clock does not turn back hit her with a thump. We had tea.
All these people are lamenting that they don’t know how they can have a sixth-grader or a freshman in high school. “Where have the last eight years gone?” said one mom.
But, I say it’s time to celebrate with all the happy children who will renew friendships. Celebrate the children who will have new classrooms and teachers, and those who will have new environments altogether. It’s exciting. It’s an adventure.
This year was even more packed with angst for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which was a raging pandemic we can’t seem to keep at bay. The least we can all do is support the students and teachers wholeheartedly. Don’t forget the parents.
As a parent of a college freshman, you might find yourself setting the table for her at dinner, you might think there is too little laundry, and when you least expect it, you might even notice all the shoes in the back entry are missing.
One man posted a photo of the cutest little guy and the caption was, “Today this guy starts college.” More than one memory ran down my cheek.
Kay Stellpflug is an educator and trainer in interpersonal and professional communications. She works and lives in Beaver Dam and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.