September 5, 2012 | LXXII, No. 23

September’s thrill and new beginnings

In Other Words

Every year as the calendar flips over into September, I feel a little thrill of anticipation. As an adult, I attribute this to the approaching autumn, my favorite season. But deep down I know that this feeling is a relic of my childhood, a remembrance of what September always brought: the first day of school.

Like many children, I adored the first day of school. I remember looking forward to the coming school year with such eagerness. An entire year stretched out before me with a trove of exciting days, undiscovered promises and perhaps, even some learning. My brother was a year ahead of me in school, so every year I had a peep into what was awaiting me. This made the start of the school year that much more exciting for me as I finally got to discover the secrets that he already knew.

This week, my daughter will have her first day of preschool. I realize that preschool is just a few hours a couple of days a week and will probably not compare to how I feel when she starts kindergarten. But to me, it feels like a significant milestone nonetheless.

As the calendar rolled over into September this year I felt an extra thrill of anticipation. School is starting, and I get to experience it all anew through the fresh eyes of a parent.

In the weeks leading up to this day I had a few surprises as a parent of an upcoming student. I received her school supply list, which was not, as my child mind remembered, a suggested list of supplies your child might need, like a pencil box or backpack, but instead a long list of the things each family needed to supply to the school. I had to fill out an extensive background check to be able to volunteer in her class. I was informed of the various fundraisers we will perform throughout the year, joining the ranks of other parents who are constantly pawning boxes of donuts or wrapping paper onto their friends and neighbors. And while I was somewhat surprised at the level of involvement required for preschool, I was excited at the same time. This is a new era, for our world and for our family. Certainly when I was in school, background checks were not required of parents. But I would far rather fill out some extra paperwork and ensure the safety of our children in this modern era than the alternative. Like children, we parents must adapt as well.

As I kissed my daughter goodbye, I was attentive of what I was sending her into. A world where every day her mind will expand, bending to absorb all the educational and social experiences school will give her. I am also aware that I send her out into a world that is no longer within my control. This is not the first time she has not been beneath my supervision, but as a stay-at-home-mom I am accustomed to having a level of management over her experiences. I am aware that this first day of school is not just a milestone for her, but one for me as well. If parenting is a gradual give and take between preparing your children for the world and then letting them go, then this is a start for me as well.

Since my daughter is only 3, and this is only preschool, the importance of this day in her life is probably far over her head. For her, it’s an exciting day to meet new friends, sit in a circle on a colorful carpet, sing songs and play games. But for me, it’s also a new beginning, and maybe, a little bit of an end too.

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