The First Day of School Feeling

For the past five-and-a-half years my wife and I have been teaching our daughter everything.

Sure, she’s been at daycare and preschool for most of her life but does coloring and painting count as “teaching?” I’m thinking more about using please and thank you and tying shoes and reading and how to hit a baseball. I’m also thinking about Star Wars and dinosaurs and Disney.

There have been outside influences like her preschool mates, or family members – but the large majority, the 90th percentile, has been from my wife and myself. And it gives me great joy to see her grow up because she doesn’t suck. It makes me proud that I don’t have a shitty kid – because, really, no one is ready for parenting.

Today, though, we handed her over to a larger influence. Teachers.

Don’t get me wrong, I think teaching is one of the greatest professions there is and the people who choose to become teachers are truly special. However, being in front of a classroom with dozens of impressionable minds – no matter what age or grade level – a teacher is highly influential.

Think of all of the professors in college who easily sway teenagers and early 20-somethings into their way of thinking. Always makes for an interesting few Thanksgivings and Christmas dinners from a freshman and sophomore returning home, doesn’t it?

This morning we sent our daughter off to Kindergarten.

Our walk to school this morning. (Photo credit Mrs. So This is Fatherhood)

My daughter was excited all week for this day and this morning she burst out of bed and ran into our room and shouted Today is my first day of Kindergarten! How can you not be happy when your child is that excited about something?

Some parents got emotional when sending their little ones off this morning. I saw some mother hug several other ladies and at one point said something to the effect of I can’t handle this shit … in front of a bunch of kids. Clearly she and I don’t have the same parenting techniques.

I didn’t get emotional. I was happy for my daughter. And, working from home today so I could be around her drop-off and pick-up, the house felt strangely empty.

I just felt … weird.

Like, a piece of me has just left my body. It’s a little surreal. Now I get how those “empty-nesters” feel when they drop their child off at college.

Last night at dinner I had the realization that for the next 16 (or more) years, my daughter will be in school. Yesterday was her last true day of freedom.

Obviously this feeling will go away and each day, each year, each step forward will make it more routine for everyone. Same as how my child now greets Halloween as just a way to get candy rather than being timid of knocking on a few doors and interacting with strangers.

And, of course, my wife and I will still plan on teaching our child every day – course-correcting when needed, and doubling down on the whole My teacher said … conversations that are bound to happen over the coming years.

Just like when she curls up next to me on the couch when I’m watching TV and she says Daddy, teach me about baseball.

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