Thursday, September 17, 2009

First Day of School

Today was Island Boy's second day at school. The first was on Tuesday, when half of his preschool class had their first day of school (the other half had theirs on Wednesday). He sailed through the day with flying colors as all of the children did. It was the nervous parents that, arguably, didn't do as well.

School philosophies differ. In the case of ours, the separation process is handled with kid gloves, so to speak. It began with several "Transition Days" in June when we showed up for what amounted to something like a play date at the school where we simply got familiar with the environment. Then, last Saturday, just a few days before school started, Island Boy received a letter in the mail. It was a card bearing a picture of his teachers and a little note saying that they were looking forward to seeing him in school. How wonderful is that??!

The next step in the process was a home visit by the teachers the day before school started. Island Boy enjoyed that visit thoroughly. He was the perfect host, offering food and plenty of entertainment.

Finally, the parents are invited to attend class (actually, expected to) for the first week or more, depending on the needs of each of the children. Although this is all set up to ostensibly help the children transition more smoothly, I suspect it is at least as important for some of us parents.

Of course many, if not all, of the parents were both thrilled to see their little ones growing up and going to school, yet a bit sad at the thought of them moving on to another phase in their lives. A new authority figure, the teacher (or teachers, in our case), will now get some of the time, some of the smiles, some of the rewards, some of the affection and respect that had previously been just for us.

To gauge the way the parents were adapting one need only have glanced at the differences in the parents from Tuesday to today. On the first day of school, the parents stood, cameras in hand, lined up like paparazzi, eagerly aiming to capture the moments, to hang on to just that little extra bit of connection with their children as they passed the baton over to the teachers to share in the duty of helping their children grow.

Today, those same parents sat, cameras at rest, while the iPhones came out in full force to pass the time. As one parent observed, we looked like an Apple commercial. And our children played happily nearby, clamoring up on the laps of their teachers, dropping by occasionally to check in with us (or to comfort us??), sensing that we were all beginning to relax into our new roles and knowing that things would never be quite the same.

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