The first day of school. There’s so many emotions wrapped up in that little sentence, aren’t there?
When I first dropped Logan off at daycare, moms told me that I’d cry and cry. I didn’t. Then years later when Logan started kindergarten, I was warned again how I’d cry and cry. Though I was excited, nervous and grew verklempt at how fast his first five years went, there were still no tears to blink back.
This day was different. This day was the first day of school in our new hometown, Portland, Ore. It’s a great town, but it’s also one where we don’t know people and Logan doesn’t yet have friends, so we really are starting from scratch. I had done what little I felt I could to prepare him.
The day the school’s office opened, we went by to pick up some papers and look inside. We were approached by a slightly pudgy, nice man and he introduced himself as the principal. I latched on for the next 30 minutes. He gave us a tour of the first grade classrooms and held up great to my questioning grilling. (Since class sizes are so large, what type of support is given to teachers to help them better meet the needs of each child? How would you characterize the social and cultural climate of the school? What is it that you as a principal need from me as a parent? What do you believe your teachers need? I went on and on.)
We met a few other staff members, and the principal introduced me as someone who needed to hold a workshop on questions to ask of educators. Way to make a good first impression, right?
The reason why is because we came from a stellar school district where Logan’s class size was 18. We’re now in a super-cash-strapped district where the classes are pushing 30 students. The wait lists for the Catholic schools are astounding and the Montessori schools are next-to-impossible to get in if you didn’t start as a tyke. Other private options just aren’t in our budget. So I’m determined to make the best of our Portland public school experience.
We went back to the school a few days later to meet our teacher and shortly after introducing ourselves, the principal was by her side, telling her about how we recently moved from Chicago and Logan had just had a birthday. I gotta admit I was happy that he came over and talked to her about us.
Our teacher didn’t strike me as overly warm, but she seems nice. I simply hope she’s a great teacher and connects with my son. There is a student teacher who seems to be a lovely girl and Logan and I connected with her immediately.
So back to the first day, Jorgen stayed home for a couple hours so that we all could walk to school together. Logan was feeling pretty good about himself because he had new clothes. (That kid is so my son, when we went back-to-school shopping, he was striking various GQ poses in the dressing room.)
As we neared the school, he told me he was scared.
“Well, you know what’s cool about the first day of school?” I asked.
“All of the other kids are scared too.”
I nodded, smiled and squeezed his hand. Our family funneled into the school with the other nervously excited families. Logan had a tight grip on my hand. We walked into the classroom, watched him grab his seat and get settled. About six of us parents lined the back wall, I was determined to stay as long as I could, just watching my boy.
When we were the last parents along the back wall, we said goodbye to Logan and I stood out in the hallway peering in. Oh yes, I did. I was totally rocking the helicopter parent vibe. I didn’t think I had it in me, but I feel like a fish out of water here, so I am more protective of all things real and imagined.
There were only a handful of parents in the hallways and I whispered to Jorgen that he may have to drag me out of the school because I loved watching our son. But when Logan spotted me, he frowned and mouthed: “What are you DOING?!?!”
I waived and said a quick goodbye and off we went, walking back home. I was kinda sad because I already missed my big guy and I was excited because I hoped he would have a great day.
A few hours later, it was time to pick up Logan.
“How was your day?”
“GREAT!!” he said bouncing up and down.
Phew. Good, one day down. I’m glad.