For over a decade, the first day of school for my sons came and went like the tide, steady and inevitable. There were no false starts, tears or desperate tugs on my pant leg. That was, until 11th grade, when my youngest son announced he intended to graduate a year early (and the tears were mine). No one tells us when we have our children that someday we will have to let them go.
My saving grace was that he would be attending the alternative high school where I worked. On his last “first day,” we entered the building together, his arm casually flung over my shoulder. Unabashed even in the presence of his peers, he was letting me know that it would be okay. And it was. He easily fell into the ranks of the other students, both the under and overachievers, misfits and mavericks, who ultimately became the inspiration for my recently released novel, .
When I left my morning anchor job at the Fox News Channel to take care of my family, I was delighted at the prospect of being able to escort my daughters, then 8 and 5, to their 8 o'clock bus on the first day of school.
First days of school for my children are always fantastic. Beth and Jake both meet each first with enthusiasm and smiles. But last year marked Jake moving onto 7th grade, which is located in our high school. Waving to him as he practically ran out of the house that day was exciting, but later that morning, when I walked Beth to the 6th grade first day of school photo shoot, it really hit me. I’m always pleased to see my children move up and on, so I wasn’t expecting to suddenly feel it—an unsavory pang.
With dozens of younger children milling around, eager about their next year in elementary school, I realized that the first day of school that year was truly an exercise in letting go. The goal of parenting is to create fully realized people who can and want to function independently and it was in that moment that I understood my discomfort didn’t stem from fear of letting him go on to do better things; it was the sting of being left behind that suddenly took my breath away.
My first day of school...I am terriified. I have no idea of what to expect - how could I? How many moons have passed since our clan had been set upon by the might and madness of the hunters and their guns, exploding in our faces tearing our bodies apart snatching me away forever. I am told that I shall have a new family - but at night they lock me in a room alone without the warmth of my companions. And when the moon shines full I can not sing with the others as was our way, for I am alone and they tell me to hold my tongue. I am forbidden the fields and woods where once I ran free. I am told how I must eat, and dress, and learn to speak their way, act like them, become one of them, yet I can find no place among them. They have no space for me in their hearts. I am told that they have saved me, but saved me for what? To end my days toiling in some factory, or exposing myself in some carnival? I think not! I am not one of you. You lost your claim on me when as an infant, innocent and helpless, but unwanted, I was abandoned outside the village to perish from exposure or to be devoired by the wild beasts. The beasts were you! The animals of the forest gave me life where you had given me death. Accepted me when you had rejected me. It was from these wild animals that I learned of love, not from you. In your madness you have torn me from my true family. Do you imagine that you have rescued a boy from the forest? How horribly mistaken you are - I am a wolf.
My first day of school...I am terriified. I have no idea of what to expect - how could I? How many moons have passed since our clan had been set upon by the might and madness of the hunters and their guns, exploding in our faces tearing our bodies apart snatching me away forever. I am told that I shall have a new family - but at night they lock me in a room alone without the warmth of my companions. And when the moon shines full I can not sing with the others as was our way, for I am alone and they tell me to hold my tongue. I am forbidden the fields and woods where once I ran free. I am told how I must eat, and dress, and learn to speak their way, act like them, become one of them, yet I can find no place among them. They have no space for me in their…
After a while I got used to school. I made friends with this girl called Charlotte on the first day who became my best friend for three years. I just think it was a chemical bond and we wouldn't separate from each other. We used to sleep around each other's houses. I also remember that I met a girl called Sally on my first day at secondary school who became my best friend ever. If it weren't for her I probably wouldn't be doing what I do now. She has always given me so much support. When I had to leave Swindon to go to London we never forgot our friendship.
My school actually opened on my first day, so we were very much aware that everything was new. I didn't want to go. I was really nervous because I knew that I would have to spend so much of my time at school. Both my sister and I did the same thing on our first day, which was to kick the teacher and refuse to let go of my mother's hand. When my mum left I thought she had abandoned me so I started screaming. I hated being left with all these children I didn't know who kept messing around.
I was the youngest of four kids, so I didn't find the first day of school daunting. My sister was an outstanding scholar and finished up in the diplomatic service, but I left school at 15. My mum didn't take me into school on my first day because she was too busy and I didn't want her to anyway. It would have been too embarrassing.
I remember my first day at junior school when I was eight. I had a fight. I was quite often involved in physical confrontation when I was in school. It was just one of those playground things. I was playing football, I bumped into someone, they said something, so did I and it ended up in a fight. The trouble was that it turned out to be Andrew Baxter, a well- spoken boy whose father was the headmaster of the school.
From the day I knew I was going to school, I'd known that my teacher's name was Miss Sykes. I had a huge fear of getting her name wrong and called her Miss Skies all that day and all through school. The more nervous I was of getting it wrong, the worse it got. My mum made me this pink cape with a fur hood and I remember walking along with my mum to school on the first day, trying to remember this lady's name.