Every year since that movie "Finding Nemo" came out, whenever we talk about the first day of school, all I can hear in my head is the excited voice of Nemo proclaiming, "First day of school! First day of school!" His excitement in the movie was was expressed, and I can happily report that my children felt the same way yesterday morning.
I went to work a little late so I could accompany them to school. It was an absolute zoo. We ended up parking over two blocks away and walking over because of all the children everywhere. My wife was there, too, with our two-and-a-half year old toddler buckled securely into his stroller. We made our way towards the school and met the new crossing guard (Debbie? Dolly? Dotty? hmm ...) who replaced the well-loved curmudgeon who retired last year. The children were just delighted to be walking the familiar walk with the family crowds hanging around everywhere.
My oldest is in third grade now and my second child, my only daughter, is in first grade. She was so excited to go to school because she could finally: 1) stay at school "all day", unlike in kindergarten, 2) play on the big kids' playground, and 3) be with her friends again. Notice that there's nothing in there about learning. My oldest, on the other hand, was excited but also somewhat more pensive, worried about if his teacher was going to be nice (yes) and if any of his friends were going to be in his class (yes).
As for me and my wife, we worried that our oldest wouldn't be challenged enough by his new teacher or that he would be singled out for being picked on -- I remember from my own experience that third graders can be brutal. Regarding our daughter, we just worried that she would eat her snack too slowly as she normally does so that she wouldn't have time to play during recess. Our worries were well-founded because that's exactly what happened! We also worried that our youngest would not adjust well to not having the older kids around the house anymore during the day. As it turns out, he seems to be doing fine, but my wife has kept a pretty busy schedule since then.
Anyway, when we arrived, we were able to take the children to the back part of the school -- something that is only allowed on the first few days of school -- where the playground is and where the children line up to go into their classrooms. There, we met the teachers and found out which of our children's friends from last year are in their new classes. Thankfully, they both know a few people from their old classes and both of the teachers apparently used to teach higher grades; we're not worried about them being challenged anymore.
It will be an interesting year, though. Will our oldest continue to surprise us academically? Will he also make some really good new friends? Will our daughter choose to behave herself and control her talkative tendencies? Will she develop a love of reading like we hope she will? Time will tell. For now, we're very happy for them and the new and wonderful experiences they will have, even if the house does feel a lot emptier.