Why I Don’t Make a Big Deal of the First Day of School

by Alicia on September 7, 2015

We don’t really take Back to School pictures.

I mean, I’ll usually snap a quick one of the girls as I’m headed out the door to work or something, but we don’t do a sign or a chalkboard or even a pose of any kind. I went to Bella’s first day, and Annika’s first day and Ryan went to Maelle’s. And I gotta tell you, I felt like they went really stressful and shitty.

My daughters seem to grow more anxious with the more information they’re given about an upcoming event. They pre-plan a Mae, giving side eyethousand different scenarios of how it will go well and how it might fail and what they may or may not be able to do about it. It’s like this for big things and little things. If I tell them about plans to go to the zoo any more than 30 minutes before leaving, someone will panic about possible thunderstorms. If I ask them to get dressed more than 20 minutes before going to the library, there will be a wild rumpus of a fight about who gets to wear which skirt. They don’t handle anticipation in a very positive way.

So for me to ask them questions about what they want to be when they grow up, and who their best friend is, and make a fancy paper for them to pose and hold and smile nicely into a phone with…well, they start to freak out. It manifests as either wild chattering energy outbursts, or subdued overthinking. And it ruins everything.

I want it to be exciting and special for them, but the reality is that the first day of school is the first day of a repetitive process that they will soon grow to be annoyed with. By day 3, the Special Snowflakeness is gone and yet…they still have to get dressed and brush their teeth and get on the bus and…now it all seems like a chore rather than that fun awesome thing Mom was so excited about way back when. And it crashes down around us.

So I just eliminate the first part. Sure, we still get excited about the first day, we talk about seeing our friends again, we talk about where their locker might be, what colour the carpet in their new classroom may be this year and what they might choose to wear that first day. I try to keep it locked on new versions of the familiar stuff, rather than big grand ideas of the things they can’t possibly predict. Cause they’ll try, to predict what they do not know, and it will stress them out.

So this year, I’ll tell them they look gorgeous in whatever outfit they choose. I’ll remind them 17 times to eat their breakfast and please stop talking. I’ll give them kisses and hugs before I leave for work and tell them I can’t wait to hear about their new teacher and who’s in their class. Then I’ll wave at them in the window as I walk to my car and that’ll be that. The fanfare looks and sounds very fun, but for us, it leads to anxiety that doesn’t need to be heightened. So I let it go and we all have a better, more calm day. I get them off the bus and that chatter is non-stop and filled with excitement and listening to it makes my head hurt trying to keep up.

So don’t feel bad if you don’t have an elaborate First Day of School set up in your house. We don’t either and our kids (mostly) love school all year long.

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