The only first day of school that was a big deal was when I started kindergarten. In the years following, the first day of school was pretty ho-hum. My parents, who were teachers, were already at their jobs. My brother and I started our days at a family friend’s house around the corner. We walked or waited for the bus with all the other Maplewood kids. I don’t remember any hovering parents.
The most stressful part about the first day of school was picking out an outfit.
It wasn’t until the age of Facebook I learned first-day-of-school pictures is a tradition in many households. Some parents even take mornings off of work on the first day of school to make sure their kids are okay. I know of one parent who did this when his daughter was in seventh grade.
I was raised to believe the first day of school is not a big milestone on the way to high school and college graduation. But people can do what they want and some of the pictures are downright cute.
Now there’s an entire industry devoted to getting kids ready for school. I’m not talking about sales of school supplies and pants. I’m talking about sleep specialists with early bedtime advice, food specialists with bagged lunch advice and psychologists with separation anxiety advice and endless advice about “routines.”
My favorite blogger, Lenore Skenazy, wrote in the Wall Street Journal:
“They can’t seem to let go,” says Natascha Santos, a school psychologist in Great Neck, N.Y., on Long Island—and she’s not talking about the kids. This could be because everywhere parents turn, the advice-o-sphere keeps harping on how incredibly hard they must work to ease their child’s incredibly harrowing adjustment to school.
“Practice how you will say goodbye,” urges one of the zillion or so websites featuring first-day-of-school tips.
If you have followed any of the other parenting tips out there, that first day of school won’t really be your child’s first, because that would be too overwhelming. “Change can be scary,” says the website Care.com. “When possible, help to familiarize your child with a new school and teachers. Drive the bus route, tour the building or classroom, locate lockers and cubbies.” Heck, why not just move in for a few weeks in July?
The back-to-school hype reminds me of the controversy surrounding graduation ceremonies for elementary school students. Finishing sixth grade does not make you special. It’s something you’re supposed to do.
Beginning sixth grade is also something you’re supposed to do. It’s not traumatic. It’s not a big deal. The only thing stressful about the first day is the hype – created by adults.
(Before you tell me I don’t understand because I don’t have kids, I will remind you that I was once a child, have friends with children and can reflect on my own observations and experiences.)
Links of the Day:
- A local man is on trial for driving drugged and causing a fatal crash. I bet we’ll see more of these, as antidepressant use is increasingly common.
- A Rochester little girl was mauled by a pit bull. This is a terrible story.
- Let me get this straight. The Rochester city school partnered with Wegmans wants parents to send their kids to school 12 hours a day starting this week. The plan appears to be staffing prorgams with volunteers. Something tells me this won’t work.
- The dean of the Simon School was stuck at the airport without his wallet and somehow coped.