Adventures Of Fatherhood

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Sleep was not easy to come by Monday night in advance of the first day of school.

While there’s always a certain excitement when it comes to the beginning of a new school year, my feeling is the younger the kid the more anxiety for the parents.

With both kids starting school on the same day this year, Tuesday was definitely a memorable day for us. There is now a first grader, Beckett, and a pre-kindergartner, Carson, in the house. On Tuesday morning, there were also two uneasy parents.

Most of the nerves had to do with Carson entering pre-kindergarten. For him, after almost two years in the early intervention program, there would be some significant changes in his daily routines. There were new teachers, a new classroom, new classmates and a new daily schedule, as he is in the afternoon half-day session. All kids go through this every new school year, but the concerns are heightened with a special needs child.

Our worries were exacerbated early on Tuesday morning when we dropped him off at daycare on our way to taking Beckett to school. In uncharacteristic fashion, Carson had trouble separating from us that morning and threw a crying fit.

In hindsight, it was probably because he was worried he was missing something. Pam and I rarely drop off together and that probably threw him off as well. He was fine a couple minutes after we left. However, it did cause us to worry about what he would be like when left at school in new surroundings without familiar faces.

It turns out Carson made us so proud. He walked into his classroom and sat down at his appointed seat and began coloring immediately. He was a little reluctant at first and constantly reaching for his mom and encouraging her to sit down. I was nearby taking pictures, and I even got one of him yanking on her dress. We only stuck around for a few minutes, but the good news was we were able to get out of the classroom without any sort of issues.

When it came time to pick him up three hours later, I found one exhausted little boy who could not make the walk back to the car. When asked if he enjoyed school, our non-verbal son shook his head yes and answered affirmatively to wanting to come back the next day.

On the second day, it was much of the same. Rather than walking back to the classroom, the new procedure is to stand in the front foyer and for the teachers to walk the kids back to the classroom. Again, thanks to a helping hand from his teacher, there were no separation issues. When I looked back in through the door, he was walking back to the classroom without any struggles.

When it comes to the first grader of the house, there was not as much apprehension because we knew he was ready. Long gone are the days when separation anxiety was a concern. In fact, if he had his way, he would walk to school by himself from our house.

There was no question Beckett was all set and excited for first grade. He has always enjoyed school, and that’s something we do not take for granted. He is willing and ready to go to school in the mornings. In fact, sometimes he’s a little bit too amped up in the mornings for school.

On the way to school on the first day, he did surprise us by admitting to being a little bit nervous over how much work he would be doing and how he would make it through the day without a snack. We took his concerns to heart because our extroverted 6-year-old has never been nervous about anything.

Pam and I are prepared for his excitement for school to temper somewhat this year because we expect first grade to bring a heavier work load, but so far he has proven himself ready for the new challenges and appears to be unfazed by the changes.

On the second day of school, I walked in with him and observed as he went through his routine of taking his book bag to his locker of sorts and immediately got out what he needed to start the day. He went about his business. When I concluded I was not needed in the least bit, I went on my way.

As I have written in this rambling in the past, the first and last days of school are always emotional to me. They are take stock moments because they are major parts of the kids’ maturation process.

It’s a time to reflect back on a year ago when Beckett was starting kindergarten and Carson was beginning his first full year in the county school system’s early intervention program. A lot has changed over the last year, but much has stayed the same as well.

It’s the latter that makes me proud. Both kids are healthy and happy boys generally and they each made us extremely proud on the first day of school this year as they did the first day of school last year.

Every school year consists of challenges and hiccups along the way, but for now I find peace in knowing all has started on a positive note. That’s good enough for me and caused me to sleep a lot better the night after the first day than the night before.