Tuesday, September 8, 2015

First Day

There is a story that I cannot tell without crying. It doesn’t matter where I am, or who I’m telling it to, my throat tightens, my eyes tear up, and I cry.  It is the story of my daughter’s first day of school.

She was only 4 when she started school. We’d had the option, because her birthday is in late October, to hold her back a year. But she was ready for school and had been since she was 3. Holding her back was not an option. She was eager for her beginning and we were happy to share our child with the world.

September 7, 2006
We took first day of school picture. Her big smile looked perfect with her pig tails, new sweater and skirt set from her great aunt, and brand new back pack. Both Sean and I walked her to the bus stop, but it was I who took the first day of school ride with her while he followed us to the school in our car. Immediately, the smell of the bus, the feel of the seats took me straight back to all my bus trips, but it was new for our daughter and I thought she might be scared. However, Sorcha’s smile continued as she scanned the bus, the kids, the scenery out the window with no trace of the nervousness many other children around her showed in their hunched shoulders and shy eyes.

Sean met us at the school door and together we walked our skipping girl to her kindergarten room. We’d met her teacher the week before, and she greeted us with familiar kindness while she showed Sorcha her to her seat. Other names, Kale, Mikale, and Jack had been placed at the same table. Sean and I shared a smile not even needing to express our amusement that Sorcha, on her first day at school, would be sitting with all boys.

As we said goodbyes to Sorcha, who was already deeply involved in a Pooh Bear colouring page, her teacher handed us a Ziploc bag with a few items inside that we examined later. We drove away from the school, a mix of emotions swirling in our hearts, one of them being pride. Our little girl was on her way, starting a path that we would guide her on, but one that would ultimately lead to a place she wanted end up.

Last week, I talked about this day to a co-worker whose little girl is staring kindergarten today. I said,
“In the bag were three items: one herbal tea, a cotton ball, and a note. The note said that the tea was to drink as you thought about your child on their first day of school and the cotton ball was to hold as you drank your tea and to remember the softness of the hand of your child as you led them to their first day of school. ” I paused to wipe my eyes, “And that was 9 years ago and it’s gone like that.” A snap of my fingers didn’t really do justice to how fast the time has passed, but it’s all I had.

Today is Sorcha’s first day of grade 9. The back pack is bigger than her first one, the clothes are her own
September 8, 20015
style and choosing, and her hair has purple streaks without the pigtails. She only has 4 years of required schooling to go and while the path is not terribly clear, we’re still proud of her. No, she doesn’t skip to school anymore, and she’s often more nervous and anxious than happy, but she’s her own person, with her own goals. She’s got passion, creativity, and a brain that will take her far.

And maybe that’s why I can’t tell the story without crying because it has gone so fast. I can remember that first day, that cup of tea that I drank on a bench down by the river, and the softness of her 4 year old hand in mine as if it was yesterday. It was a precious moment, letting her go, being proud of her, not spoiling her happiness with our tears. She took that moment, let go of our hands, and embraced her future. That moment in the past created a time loop, a point of such breathtaking beauty that I will happily live it out every time I tell the story and every first day that we share together.

Even though it makes me cry.