Today was my daughter’s first day of kindergarten. Although, she thinks tomorrow is her first day due to the weirdness of the schedule. Either way, she is very excited. I will be very upset at anyone who diminishes that excitement. It is wonderful to see her so excited. Sadly, I’m having a really hard time sharing her excitement.
I know from talking to other parents, reading and using social media that the first day of school, especially for kindergarteners, is supposed to be an emotional time for parents and children. The children are supposed to be excited, nervous, eager and shy all at the same time. The parents are supposed to be excited, nervous and maybe a bit sad, or at least wistful. I’m not feeling any of those things, though. Instead, I can’t seem to shake a feeling of guilt.
Anyone who knew me between the ages of five and eighteen can guess where the guilty feeling is coming from. I hated school and I wasn’t shy about sharing my feelings. At the time, I had a feeling that my attitude towards school would shift as I got older and more mature. That hasn’t happened. If you had asked an eighteen-year-old me about school, he would have said it was a thirteen-year waste of time. If you ask me now, I’ll probably describe it as a thirteen-year hazing ritual. The guilt comes from the fact that I’m subjecting my daughter to the thing I hated (and hate) so much.
For me, this is the weirdest and hardest part of being a parent. I do not want my daughter to share my feelings. That’s just plain weird on its own. In most cases, nothing would make me happier than my daughter sharing my feelings. It’s hard because I have to go against my instincts. Normally, if I see my daughter about to do something likely to cause unnecessary pain, I would try to prevent it, or, at the very least, try to warn and prepare her. Instead, I’m just letting this happen and I’m pretending like I think it’s a wonderful thing.
I hope I’m wrong about school. In an effort to lessen the guilt, I keep telling myself that many people, even friends and loved ones, really liked school. They found it valuable and enlightening. I keep telling myself about all the smart, dedicated, caring teachers out there. I keep telling myself that things have changed in the past twenty plus years. I even keep telling myself that thanks to my Ex’s living situation, my daughter gets to go to school in one of the highest rated school districts around. None of it is working, though.
I suppose this is just one of the many things that no one told me about being a parent. Even when all of my feelings are screaming the same thing, I need to put them aside and do what my intellect says is right. School is one of those areas of life where I really don’t want my daughter to be like me. I hope, if you ask my eighteen-year-old daughter about school, she’ll have lots of good things to say. That way, I can look back and laugh at my foolishness.