My stepson started first grade today. My nephew did too. First grade. A big deal! They are on the brink of their long educational journey.
But for me, first grade has always felt like the end of an era. When my oldest daughter went to first grade, I spent the entire day in tears. My ‘baby’, who up until that point had spent her days with me, was now in a new environment in which I had less impact. I felt diminished, replaced, ineffective, afraid.
When each of my children went to first grade, in fact, I felt an inexplicable sadness . . . . as if I had ‘lost’ them on some level. For me, it was the end of their ‘young’ childhood. It was the end of lunches at home. It was the end of MusicTogether classes in the morning. Tearfully, I watched old home videos of their toddler years. I flipped through their baby books . . . (sniffle)
It didn’t take much time before I realized that first grade was also a very welcome beginning. I had a bit of an “empty nest” experience in which I suddenly could have lunch with friends. I could go grocery shopping without kids in the cart. I could pick-up more work and not feel guilty about it.
And my children were excited to be moving forward: going on the school bus, making new friends, learning new things, getting to be in the ‘big kid’ building. Every beginning, also an ending. And every ending, also a beginning.
And so now, with all its nuances and not-so-subtle changes, I say “bring on first grade!”