First Day of School

Spady is the family nickname used by the men of this family for generations
“Spady” is the nickname that the men in my husband’s family have used for generations, all the way back in Italy.

This past Monday was my son’s first day of VPK school (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten), and regardless of how much I planned that morning, once again I ran out the door like a chicken without its head pushing my little guy in the car like a suitcase in a trunk.

On our way to his preschool, my son saw me driving with only one hand on the steering wheel and suddenly yelled at me, “Mommy, put both hands on the wheel or we are going to crash!” I looked at him through the review mirror thinking, “When did he grow up so much to be giving me unsolicited advice?” I told him that we were not going to crash, but still put my other hand on the wheel. It’s like I have two husbands! 

Twenty minutes later, we were walking toward the entrance–even though the teachers recommended the carpool line at orientation to avoid crying meltdowns from the kids. (I am not a rebel; I just hate the carpool line.) We said good-bye quickly and I gave him a kiss and a blessing. When I looked back at him while I walked to my car, I saw him sitting on the floor with the rest of his class just chilling, no tears. Mission accomplished!

As I drove away, it was I who cried like a baby. Not only for leaving my baby boy, but because I realized that once again I forgot to take the “first-day-of-school” picture! Darn it! I can only hope that during the next 12 years of my son’s school life I might remember to take the historical photo.

 Then, past my son’s building, was the entrance to the two and three-year old classes. The anguish in the parents’ eyes reminded me of my own torment two years ago.

It was the end of July 2013, and my son was enrolled in the last summer camp; he would attend the same pre-school, and this way, he could get acquainted with the school before formal classes started. When I dropped him off, I was so sure that he was going to be fine because of his extroverted personality. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

He grabbed me like a tick on a dog and screamed bloody murder. Thank God the teachers knew exactly what to do, so they took him from my arms like a band-aid, quickly, and I ran outside crying a river.

Not even an hour later the principal’s assistant called me and said, “He is not a happy camper. I think you should come.” When I got there, I saw him walking in circles, sobbing and holding his favorite sippy-cup in his little hand. I hugged him and talked to him a few minutes. He grabbed my leg–like I was a wood plank during a ship wreck–while I spoke to one of the teachers and then he decided, on his own, to join the rest of the group. Ten minutes later, he was laughing and running so I decided to give him another chance and went home, again.

At pick up, I went crazy because I couldn’t find him in the group of munchkins gathered in the little chapel, until one of the teachers told me to follow her. When I entered the classroom, I lost my breath when I saw my baby laying on a rainbow rug, sobbing and hugging his little sippy-cup. Apparently, he had cried himself to sleep because he didn’t want to join any activities, not even eating his lunch or snack.

I woke him up and his eyes glowed when he saw me. “Mommy is here baby, everything is alright,” I whispered in his ear and took him home.

My son is only four years old, and I know that every school year brings its challenges. But, when I see him running like a mad man, with the huge back pack that makes him look like a Galapagos Tortoise, all I know is that he is eager to see his classmates and teachers. My son teaches me with his “open mind attitude,” that there should not be worries about bullying, rejection, or the need to fit in. He has only one goal in mind: go to school, play with his friends, and hopefully learn something.

I wish, for my son, happiness and the passion that will guide him throughout his adult life. I hope he runs after his happiness with the same determination that he displays now; I hope he runs steadfastly, no matter how heavy the back pack gets in his life, when I can’t help him carry it. In the meantime, I will continue to try, every year, to get the picture of his first day of school.

Thanks for reading and sharing.

Xiomara Spadafora

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