Back to school traditions often begin innocently enough. For example, about 22 years ago, my oldest daughter was set to begin her first day of kindergarten. I was a single mom, and like most moms, I was having a difficult time letting go, so I took the day off. And thus began a family tradition.
First day of school
I remember the day like it was yesterday. I barely slept all night, because I was sad that my little girl was growing up. I even got up in the middle of the night to look at her baby pictures. At 5, she felt grown up, so excited to finally start school. She’d packed and repacked her backpack so many times that I imagined she knew the contents by heart. After much debate and trying on all her new clothes, she’d carefully selected the outfit she’d wear on her first day.
Rachel didn’t sleep either, and it wasn’t until I crawled into her top bunk bed, stroked her cheek that she did fall asleep.
When I woke her up, she insisted on dressing herself – wouldn’t even let me help. It almost brought me to tears when she actually did a great job — shoes on correct feet, clothes inside out and tags in the back. We took extra time with fixing her hair. I even made her a special breakfast.
Walking to school
Slipping on her backpack, we stepped out the front door. I walked with her the four blocks to school. She held my hand until we arrived at the school’s playground. Then she was so excited that she ran to the front door.
My youngest daughter, age 3, tagged along behind us, oblivious to how important this day was to her sister, but most definitely jealous that her sister was getting all the attention.
My grown up 5 year old
Once we entered the school grounds, Rachel dropped my hand and ran ahead. We waited in line together with 25-some other kindergarteners and their families. I was so proud of my little girl, but I was sad that she was growing up. I knew I had to let go, just like so many other mothers. When the teacher asked my daughter her name, she proudly said “Rachel Sue Tucker,” the teacher laughed and asked if it was okay if she just put Rachel on her name tag. Rachel agreed, and thus began her first day of school.
Rachel walked into the school with her fellow students. She didn’t look back until the last minute. Then she waved and shouted, “Mommy, I’m in school!” That’s when I cried.
Thus, began the back to school family tradition.
This week was my granddaughter’s first day of kindergarten, and my daughter, her husband and her little brother, age 3, walked her to school. I missed the day because I was traveling, but my heart still cried for my own little girl, now age 27, all grown up with her own family.
What is your family tradition?