I remember my daughter’s first day of kindergarten like it was yesterday. That sounds like a cliché, but is totally and completely true. She was so, so excited to have her backpack and school supplies, a spiffy new Hello Kitty lunchbox with a snack to keep her going for the day, there were cute new clothes to be worn and let’s not even get started on the shoes.
She was nervous and excited, and held my hand all the way from the front door of our house, to the front door of the school. As the teacher opened the door and the kids filed into the class, she looked at me with huge eyes and I told her very gently, “I will be waiting right here with your little brother at the end of the day. Then we will all go out for ice cream and you can tell us all about your day at school.” I told her I loved her and gave her a big hug. She carefully walked into the classroom, I turned and walked home with proud tears in my eyes.
Fast forward a few years. Well, maybe not a few, more like nine.
On the first day of school last year, she was entering the final year of middle school. She was now one of the "big kids" that ruled the roost at the school. “The grade sixers look so small” she said, completely forgetting that was her just two years earlier.
As we drove to school, she turned to me and said. “You know Mom, you don’t have to drive me all the way up to the front door.”
I always drop her off at the front door.
“So, where do you want me to drop you off?”
“Right here is good.”
Good lord. We were at a red light. I had about 0.35 seconds to make a parenting decision. Clearly she didn’t want to be seen getting dropped off at the school by her Mummy in the mini-van anymore and was transitioning into the typical “teenage saunter” into the school entrance.
All of a sudden, I was Greg Heffley’s Mom
“Fine. Out you get… I’ll see you in the parking lot after school.” She hopped out and made her way to the school. She left her Hello Kitty lunchbox behind. Not shocking.
As the light turned green, I realized that just because she got what she wanted, there was no need to let her have the upper hand. I drove past her on the sidewalk, opened up the window and whipped out my camera. “Honey, I forgot to take your First Day of School photo!!!” and started snapping away.
Like a frightened deer, she started to run. I was now the “Mama-razzi,” stalking my kid with my camera trying to capture a Kodak moment.
That’s my girl… holding her binder up to her face to protect her identity.
After being a parent for all these years, I’m still stunned by how much kids change and how fast they do it. Events like the first day of kindergarten seem like they were just yesterday but in actuality, they weren’t. I miss those early first days of school, but if I can’t have them back, I can at least make sure that the upcoming ones make me laugh. Potentially at the risk of embarrassing my kids... but I'm okay with that.
In a few weeks, I'll be driving my daughter to her first day of high-school. It goes without saying that I can't wait to see where I have to drop her off then.
And while I think about it, I'd better hide my camera from her now...