First Day of School
The first day of school is one of the most important events in our whole life. We embark on a world that is new and unfamiliar. We leave the cozy, warm nest that we have shared with our parents and siblings and walk into a busy classroom full of new faces. We move from a well-known place to a new environment full of challenges and obstacles.
I knew that my first child, Eva had been ready for kindergarten for months. I wasn’t stressed about her starting public education; a place where she would spend most of her waking hours for the next 15 or so years.
Eva was dressed immaculately in her new, navy blue school dress, perfectly-parted plaits and wearing a backpack as big as her whole torso. She had also worked very hard on a letter for her new teacher, Miss Baker. She had decorated the sides with rainbows, hearts and kisses. She had written “I love you” on the letter, without even meeting her.
As we were walking to school, the sun was shining and Eva was skipping along happily, excitement oozing from her pores. I was the proud mum following, taking photos of her skinny little legs and over-sized back pack as she walked. And then it happened. In a blink of eye, she tripped over a wooden step on the playground and fell flat on her face. The envelope that she held in her little hand, went flying across the pavement into a sea of children’s black, leather shoes. She struggled to get up, weighed-down by her ridiculously large bag. I helped her to her feet and looked at her face, which was a deep shade of crimson. Her first words out of her mouth were ones I will never forget,
“Did anybody see that?”
I did what any good mother would do, I lied. Even though a crowd of people had begun to hover around us to see if she was okay. Tears rolled down her sun-kissed cheeks and a little blood dripped down from the graze on her knobby knee. It immediately sent her into a panic when she saw the blood. I felt her pain and embarrassment, as though it had happened to me. Actually, I wished it had happened to me. Despite the pain, Eva began crawling around the ground, still whimpering, searching madly for the letter she had worked so hard on. It was then that an older group of boys walked past and laughed at her. My shoulders tightened and my heart sank into my stomach. It took all my willpower not to say,
“Shut up you little brats!”
It was then that I experienced a new feeling. I had this overwhelming need to protect my baby from ever feeling this way again. Of course, I knew that this was impossible. There would be many moments in her life where she would feel the way she did on her first day of Kindy. It was all part of the growing up process. She was a little fish in a big sea and I had to let her swim.
I had been so wrapped up in getting her prepared for school that I failed to notice that it was a big day for me, not to mention for all the other mothers in the country too. Like me, they were setting their beloved children free, after dedicating every day to their needs for five years. We were exposing our children to a tough world of hurtful taunts, heartache and disappointment. But there was also a flip side to that. We were also sending them to make new friends, learn about the world around them and continue to grow as people.
I dusted Eva off, handed her the little, slightly crinkled envelope and with a quick kiss, I sent her on her way, holding back my own tears.
By 3:00, she had forgotten all about her fall, the rude boys and the crinkled letter. She was full of stories about her amazing first day at school. We slept well that night coming to terms with the fact that life had changed dramatically for the both of us.