It’s back-to-school time in my community and in so many others around the country. Teachers, students, and parents have been preparing for weeks. Teachers are returning with renewed passion thanks to summer training and summer rest. Students are returning, reluctantly perhaps, excited about new school clothes and reuniting with friends. And parents. You’ve seen them on television ads and social media. They skip joyously through the school supply aisles, meet in the driveway for a mimosa toast, and perform celebratory dances as the school bus pulls away on the first day. It’s a fresh start for everyone.
There is one group of parents you won’t see skipping, toasting, and dancing, however. Those are the kindergarten moms. Those moms are fighting back tears, lingering too long in the hallway, and worrying about everything from new friends (or lack thereof) to the complexities of navigating the lunch line.
My mom was one of those.
When we entered my kindergarten classroom for the first time, I was overwhelmed with the sights and sounds before me. There were children everywhere, more than I had ever seen in one place. The perimeter of the room was lined with bins of blocks, crayons, scissors, paste, workbooks, and packages of paper. OH! The paper! Paper with lines. Paper without lines. White paper. Colored paper. Manila paper. So much paper! I was giddy with the possibilities awaiting me in kindergarten. I turned and waved at Mom.
Mom was not giddy. In kindergarten terms, she was sad. She expected me to be shy, reluctant, clingy, my normal approach to anything or anyone new. She expected tears, mine as well as hers. Instead, she got a wave and this cheerful announcement: “You can go now!” That was almost 50 years ago. She’s over it now. I think. But she still tells the story when conversations turn to kindergarten.
I never stopped loving school, especially those first days when everything is new and possibilities are endless. We are lucky that the calendar provides us with many other opportunities for fresh starts. In January we start anew with grandiose plans for all kinds of improvements. We all start a new year of our very own on our birthdays. For some, each new month is a time to review progress and begin again. And Mondays! We don’t usually look forward to them, but you have to admit, they provide us with 52 fresh starts each year.
You may not realize it, but you can have a new beginning at any time. Just call it. The same way you call, “Shotgun!” or “Not it!” Try it. “Fresh start!” Tell others so they can try it too. It really works, even for kindergarten moms!
If you are an educator or a student, I wish you the very best this year can bring. If you are a kindergarten mom, I wish you an extra measure of grace until you are able to dance behind the school bus. For everyone, I wish you fresh starts, new stuff, and endless possibilities.