First day of school is a right of passage
By JEFF JOBE
I remember each morning so clearly. First days of school for me were as much a right of passage for me as it was my children.
As I look back over the past 20 years, I remember few things more than those first days of school for my children; second only perhaps to their births in regards to nervous family memories.
My son Wyatt’s first day was perhaps the most memorable because I was ready to be tied; a literal loose cannon of emotion as I left him at school.
We walked into Morgantown Elementary hand in hand and without even a good morning to me and my son the teacher in charge said in a high voice, “Everyone line up in a single file and no talking.” I walked with Wyatt to a place in line and literally stayed there until I was told to leave. As I left the school looking over my shoulder I remember holding back tears and emotion so overwhelming I thought I was going to throw up.
I got in my car and drove straight to my office; within 5 minutes I had my son’s grandmother Nancy on the phone and was telling her I wasn’t sure public school would be a good fit for my children. I remember crying and telling her all they did was make them line up and keep their mouths shut. “They treat them like cattle, herding them through the system,” was a quote of mine she reminded me of a few times over the years.
Her advise was always sound and this day she said, “why don’t we give it a day or so and see how it feels then.” I agreed but in my mind I was determined to have her come live with us and educate my children.
It was a long half day.
I was waiting on him at noon with his mother and baby sisters. As he walked out he was all smiles. He got in the car and shared tremendous tales of meeting new friends and even seeing several of his summer league team mates as well.
We went to the FarmBoy Restaurant for a late lunch and as I left for work at the paper, I realized he was so proud of his first day of independent away from mom and dad.
The day was certainly a right of passage for Wyatt and over the years I experienced it again with his sisters Reagan and McKenna. Reagan’s first day was more of a first day fashion show instead of first day at school. She never stopped talking on the entire drive to school about what she was wearing this day and telling me about what she would be wearing the next day.
It was all difference for McKenna, she made me promise I wouldn’t go into school with her because I didn’t go with Reagan anymore, who was a year older and she didn’t want to be treated like a baby.
This was the beginning of my official don’t speak or make any movements until we drive away from school directives. Seems my girls don’t like it when I act all happy to see them. I was told to remain calm and look straight ahead and once they get in car with door closed I can then speak.
Looking back I conclude that the second first day was easier and the third even easier I guess but still one can get lost in their own thoughts of life passing, if we allow ourselves.
It is important not to dwell on the past or even the passing of time as it is happening at times like this; we must embrace and be ready to enjoy the present and future. Just plain common sense for a healthy outlook but much easier to write than live it, I assure you.
I was reminded of those words I have written often as Reagan and I helped move McKenna into her dorm at the University of Louisville this past Friday.
She went early because she wanted to rush a sorority and as I listened to her and her sister speak of the process my heart was touched when Reagan said, “Kenna dad told me last year that I should look at this process as me choosing the sorority I wanted to be in and not worry about if they choose me.” I smiled and said, “absolutely, you are intelligent with a 4.57 GPA, beautiful, athletic and all around sweet girl; who wouldn’t want such a young woman as a sister.” Reagan chimed in and said, “you have been a great sister to me.” I suggested we find a fun new place for dinner and we did.
I’m sure all you moms and dads out there know where my mind was the entire time. I was smiling and looking at them enjoying dinner but all I would think about was she is all grown up now. And thoughts kept racing through my mind that some sorority spoiled stinker would hurt her feelings along the way and I wouldn’t be there to protect her.
She is all settled in now and she chose the national sorority Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA) and although her sister was slightly disappointed she didn’t go with her choice she made at Transylvania of Chi Omega; Reagan was as relieved as I was knowing that McKenna got the one she wanted.
This week I have encouraged our General Managers to post online and print a page of first day pictures of your families or maybe a neighborhood kid as our way of saying; enjoy the moment, embrace the future and thank you for sharing your life with my family and our readers.
Jeff Jobe is founder and CEO of Jobe Publishing, Inc. His commentary reflects his personal views and does not reflect the views of personal or professional associations and affiliations. Reach him at email@example.com. Read his previously published commentary at www.jobeforkentucky.com