It's that time of year. Leslie termed it 'the most wonderful time of the year'. Oh, I can certainly relate to that sentiment. I've just never experienced it. In the 13 years since I sent my wee ones off to kindergarten, I also had to gear up for another school year as a special education para-professional. No hurrying my kidlets to the bus stop and waving a fond farewell to them or dropping them off at the entrance, watching them walk into the building and skee-daddling to corporate America for Bullet Hole. I had to head 'back to school' just like my kids. And looked forward to it about as much.
This fall everything is different. I have a different job--one that I actually like--and all my children are ready to head off to college. Well, 'ready' may be stretching it a bit. But like it or not, it's that time of year.
Two of my three freshmen are commuting to community college their freshman year to accrue general education credits while they work and save to transfer to a four year institution--and hopefully figure out what they want to do as a career. My other two will be living on campus. I'll be helping my freshman daughter move into her dorm Saturday. Or so she assures me. As of today I see little evidence that such a move is imminent or even possible. Good thing her campus is 45 minutes away and 12 miles from my place of employment because I predict lots of 'oops, I forgot' trips.
I'll be carrying a heavy course load myself this term as I finish up my Criminal Justice degree.
I comfort myself that I won't have to deal with the 'empty nest' syndrome until next fall. Thank goodness.
This morning I was listening to my favorite radio station, 1040 WHO Radio, and it's a tradition on the first day of school for the host to read a poem called, I Trust You'll Treat Her Well--a letter written by the father of a daughter about to begin her first day of kindergarten. Not only was the co-host blubbering, but the sports guy (a father himself) was getting choked up. Me? Steel, man. Solid as steel. Like a rock.
What? You don't believe me? You think I had great gobs of mucous flowing and a thick knot of emotion in my throat? You think I went through a wad of tissues faster than I do a bowl of M&Ms? Me? The ex super trooper? The 'wonder woman' who raised four kids on her own while working, writing, and going to school?
How the heck did you guys become so bloody perceptive?
Oh. I forgot.
Many of you are writers and all of you are readers.
Duh. That's how.
For those of you who may have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or other children in your lives heading off to school, here's I Trust You'll Treat Her Well'. (Warning: Do not read without a box of tissues handy!)
I bequeath to you today one little girl...in a crispy dress...with two brown eyes...and a happy laugh that ripples all day long.. and a flash of light brown hair that bounces in the sun when she runs.
I trust you'll treat her well.
She's slipping out of the backyard of my heart this morning...and skipping off down the street to her first day of school. And never again will she be completely mine.
Prim and proud she'll wave her young and independent hand this morning and say "Goodbye" and walk with little lady steps to the schoolhouse.
Now she'll learn to stand in lines...and wait by the alphabet for her name to be called. She'll learn to tune her ears for the sounds of school-bells...and deadlines...and she'll learn to giggle...and gossip...and look at the ceiling in a disinterested way when the little boy 'cross the aisle sticks out his tongue at her. And now she'll learn to be jealous. And now she'll learn how it is to feel hurt inside. And now she'll learn how not to cry.
No longer will she have time to sit on the front porch on a summer day and watch an ant scurry across the crack in the sidewalk. Nor will she have time to pop out of bed with the dawn and kiss lilac blooms in the morning dew. No, now she'll worry about those important things...like grades and which dress to wear and whose best friends is whose. And the magic of books and learning will replace the magic of her blocks and dolls. And now she'll find new heroes.
For five full years now I've been her sage and Santa Claus and pal and playmate and mother and friend. Now she'll learn to share her worship with her teachers ...which is only right. But no longer will I be the smartest woman in the whole world. Today when that school bell rings for the first time...she'll learn what it means to be a member of the group...with all its privileges and its disadvantages too.
She'll learn in time that proper young ladies do not laugh out loud...or kiss dogs...or keep frogs in pickle jars in bedrooms...or even watch ants scurry across cracks in sidewalks in the summer.
Today she'll learn for the first time that all who smile at her are not her friends. And I'll stand on the front porch and watch her start out on the long, lonely journey to becoming a woman.
So, world, I bequeath to you today one little girl...in a crispy dress...with two brown eyes...and a flash of light brown hair that bounces in the sunlight when she runs.
I trust you'll treat her well.
~Bullet Hole who is determined NOT to cry when she leaves her baby at the dorm Saturday~
Published by Geo. Mc Co., Box 15671, Salt Lake City, Utah 84115