When my children started kindergarten, the principal of their elementary school hosted an event called “Tea and Tissues.” Each year on the first day of school, parents of kindergarteners dropped their kids in their classroom and then made their way to the library, where the principal had coffee and tea and cookies and tiny packages of tissues waiting. She would greet the parents, joke about how hard the first day of school was, and reassure us she would take excellent care of our babies. She then read a book to us, something along the lines of parents letting their children fly free, I think, and then she sent us on our merry way, tears dried, emotions in check, comfortable in the knowledge that even though they were now in someone else’s care, they would be fine, likely blossom even.
I wish middle school had “Tea and Tissues.”
Today is the day. Monday, August 22, 2016. My daughter’s first day of school. First day of middle school. First day at a new school, in a new school system. First time she’s gone back to school before Labor Day. First time she’s gone back… alone. As the only one. First time she’s been the first to experience something.
That’s a lot of firsts. And I’m a hot mess because of it.
Will she like her new school? Will the other kids like her? Will she make new friends? Will she find her classrooms? Will someone help her figure things out? Will she remember she has lunch money in her backpack? Is her uniform correct? Did we buy the right shoes? The right supplies? Did will complete the mounds of paperwork correctly?
Will any of these kids, these new classmates know what happened back in March? Will they remind her, ask her about it? This is what we are trying to avoid by sending her to a new school.
Almost as bad, though, will they have no idea and say unintentionally hurtful things, about suicide, brothers, life?
I dropped her off this morning, both of us nervous, but her fairing much better than me. After she waved and walked into the gym to join her classmates for the first assembly of the year, I walked out to my car and sat in the parking lot and cried. Luckily, I’d parked far out, so there wasn’t much foot traffic, many people to give me curious looks. Although few of these people know me yet, so perhaps they assumed my child was a kindergartener, and I was sending her off to school for the first time ever.
Now I’m back home, and it’s time to start the workday. There is nothing I can do for the next seven hours except worry. And wait. I won’t know anything until two-thirty this afternoon, when I pick her up from her first day of middle school.
I think I need some tea. And more tissues.