School

So we sent our oldest off to all day school for the first time. I wish I had something more monumental or earth shattering to say about it but it simply was a happy sad moment. I cried a little yesterday. The wife cried a little more. It’s really sad stuff being a parent. And sometimes you just gotta cry.

Out went our special little boy into a world that is often less than a good place. We went from being a happy little family, spending each day entirely together, to a reality where one of the brightest parts is missing for the better part of the day.

Fortunately we sent him to a place where he’ll be able to flourish and be himself. School will help him socialize and learn new things. It’s a safe, loving environment; like home but with better tools for learning, and a fish tank. The place is so awesome I want to go there. Seriously, it’d be fun. So why so sad?

Obviously because he’s getting older. He looked older after school yesterday. I think he grew up a little. No amount of crying will stop that – despite the fact we all cry about age throughout our lives. Being his age is like the “golden” age for being a kid. I worry as a parent: did I give him all the experiences he needs to have fond memories? But growing older also means he’ll experience new adventures, get smarter in so many ways and it’s fun to be a part of that.

Part of the sadness might be the unknown of a world that isn’t always safe. All over the world people don’t come home daily for various, more often than not senseless or inexplicable, reasons. We can’t worry too much about that. What will happen will happen. We’ve hopefully given him the tools to kind, gentle and loving – to survive and be smart. And hopefully we’ve entrusted him to the hands of other people who will keep him safe and nurture him. That mixed with a prayer or two, and crossed fingers is all we can do.

I think the primary reason I’m sad is we’re giving him over to a world that will change him. He won’t be our little guy anymore, at least not the way he was. Yes most will be for better. But the part that would break my heart would be the world that intimidates him or makes him sad. A world that makes him change who he is inside in an effort to better fit in. It’s an awful thing to say, but I see it, even in other little kids – they start to work things out socially and in an effort to fit in they pick on other kids. And a natural reaction is to shun anything that others would pick on. We face these same problems as adults really. Except as an adult I can punch you in the face if I deem it an appropriate response. My kid can’t do that or doesn’t even know that it’s an option (it’s not really).

My point is: there is so much potential in a young child, I hate to see any of it eroded away needlessly by a world that can be very judgmental and difficult much of the time.

We travel the path of life through these years, school-age to adulthood, as best we can. The hope is with hard work and a little luck we emerge on the back side as confident, humorous, self-aware, loving, compassionate adults who are able to stand up for themselves and others. Stand up for what they believe in.

Our saving grace is that if we teach our children to love themselves then they will be best prepared to face a world that wants them to hide from who they really are. We may be giving our son to the world, one school day at a time, but I never, ever, ever want to lose that smile of his. Nor his laughter, inquisitiveness, shyness and any number of other quirky traits that make him who he is to us.

So there you go world, her’s our son. Encourage him. Teach him. Love him. And don’t  break him. You are going to need him to help you along in the coming years.

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