Today we participated in a ritual shared by millions of others this time of year: The Very First Day of School. It was not without some small share of drama, as it turns out one little boy who used to bother my girl incessantly on her bus-ride to pre-school is actually in her kindergarten class. Definitely a situation worth monitoring.
We’ve been looking forward to this day for a month or so. My girl is so excited for the new experience of friends, learning, and the next chapter of her young life. She has an inquisitive mind after all. Me, I had mixed feelings – not only because this is such a major change in her life (for her and little brother), but because of the serious questions I have about the state of the educational system in this country and our state. My questions come from my own personal knowledge having worked in the system as well as the careers of several family members. They revolve around what we choose to emphasize in our schools (is it learning, achievement, socialization, self-esteem?) and who we pick to lead these efforts.
Don’t get me wrong; I was raised by a teacher. If you ask me, teachers are the most underpaid professionals in our society. No it’s the administrators and the policy-makers that make give me pause. One too many run-ins with former P.E. teachers who elevated themselves to Principal or higher; one too many myopic decisions by half-wit school boards and legislators that don’t seem to factor the kids into the process.
But enough about that. Today was about my daughter’s sense of anticipation, her nervousness, her bravery. As I snapped this picture of her waiting patiently for the teachers to let them inside, I saw other kids clinging to their parents’ legs and moms and dads with moist eyes. But that wasn’t for us. Sometimes it seems like we’ve become a nation of hand-wringing worriers, and I was happy to not contribute to that, if only in a small discrete fashion.
I also saw a thousand new trials for my girl and our family, many of them necessary and important, some of them that will no doubt prove trivial and mean. I only hope we can find the patience to deal with these trials as they arise. And like most other parents, we hope the system will not fail us, that our child will receive an education equal to or better than what we received growing up.