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First Day Fears

First Day Fears

Our little kindergartner.
Five years old.

“ … our fears should not become theirs.”

The schools opened here in Hillsboro, Oregon today. Many mothers are happy that their August restless children have gone back to the routine they know so well. Children almost burst at the seams when it comes to the excitement of the first day. I even describe excitement and anticipation as “better than the first day of school!”

On the other hand, there are those mothers, generally kindergarten or preschool moms, who suffer the first few days. Their children have gone out into the world forever.

Moms of middle school children suffer the big worries, with their girls in particular, for social development. The moms know what is going on inside their girl’s heads. The more mature girls are feeling a little insecure about their bodies. Chubby girls worry if they will ever fit in. Popular girls have an edge over smaller or less worldly girls that just want to play with them. And so it goes.

I am a retired educator, substitute teacher for thirteen plus years, kindergarten teacher for five years, and an all around mom forever! I know what they are all going through because I have been there too. Moms worry for the feelings of the their children, the academic achievement of their teens … and the children are having a blast.

The first day of school is like … the first day of school. New clothes, fresh paper, pens, pencils, glue, markers, crayons, shoes, and a new class of possible friends with a teacher that could very possibly be the most cool person on the face of the earth. That is the way children see it. They have not lived through popular girl meaness, they don’t know about chubby or slow or any of it. Not yet. What mothers (and fathers) worry about most is what happened to them. They want to protect their children. I’m the grandmother and I want to protect them.

Still we know that if they are to become their own person, our fears should not become theirs. My best advice to young parents is to teach their children that the family is their best friend. Outsiders can’t totally fill that roll for them. Home is always safe and loving. Bad things happen but we will praise them for their courage and strength. And, most importantly, children that put them down only do it because they feel bad about themselves. Making your child feel bad makes them feel important, smart, big and powerful. It is just sad ... that is what we tell them.

Let me say this though. You parents always need to be your child’s advocate. You should step in when the need arises … sometimes without their knowledge. You are their first and best teacher, friends and protector. When your kindergartner leaves you, it is not the end but only the beginner. They will always need you. Than should never change.

The first day of school, for me, is still a day of celebration. I am retired so I do not go to work. That does not mean that I don’t love the smell of new paper and brand new shoes. That will never, never go away.

Have a wonderful week.

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