Our First Shot at Back to School Excitement

I’m not sure if this is the only time I’ll say this, but in our house right now we’re nearly (very, very nearly) as excited as we get around Christmas. Because this September, our biggest girl heads off (at least during the days) to begin her schooling adventure. Yes, we’re excited about back to school.

This is the first time I can remember welcoming the back to school commercials, the first time I can remember happily opening my wallet for dresses and the first I can remember having a little girl ask me every morning if “school starts today.”

Our most recent excitement boost came courtesy of a much too big blue backpack (“blue’s my favourite colour, Daddy”) that Leah is already filling with books and stuffed animals and empty lunch containers. “It’s my backpack for when I go to school Daddy,” she tells me day after day with a big smile on her face. Soon enough it will be packed with real school supplies and we’ll drop her off at school and all of us will cry except for her.

We’re excited, and also a little nervous, because our little girl is not only little to us, she’ll be little to her classmates too, being born in December and giving up almost a full year to some of the other kids who will be in her class. A year is a pretty big gap when we’re talking three and four year olds. Any parent will remember how much their child learned monthly in their early years. Even the Berenstain Bears book about birthday parties describes the differences quite succinctly when they show Sister Bear and her drawings from year to year.

What makes us sure we’re making the right decision though? Her. She’s not nervous and she doesn’t wake up in cold sweats about her Thursday fingerpainting test. She can count she can spell her name and she can laugh at my jokes—that takes learning to be able to do properly. If we’re the anxious ones then this whole school situation is going to be just fine.

Sure there will be problems: she’ll have an accident and will come home in a different dress than we sent her to school in, someone will hit her in the arm, she’ll hit someone in the arm, she’ll tell someone she doesn’t love them, she’ll paint and then rip up a rainbow and she’ll forget the words to O Christmas Tree in the Christmas play but getting a standing ovation from us anyway.

But more than anything, she’s going to have fun and meet other little kids who might grow up to be lifelong friends. She’ll start inviting them all to her birthday parties, she’ll come home in tears sometimes because one of her friends did something or the other and soon we’ll get to the point where we start worrying about our big girl who will “always be our baby” as she heads to sleepovers and on field trips. We’ll worry everyday about bullying and making sure our girl has the confidence and strength to stand up to it and that if she doesn’t, that we’ll be there to help her through it.

We’re excited right now because growing up can be a heck of a lot of fun.

Mike is an Ottawa born-and-raised husband and father of two. He’s obsessed with making sure his daughters says ‘daddy and mommy’ and not ‘mommy and daddy’ and with ensuring his daughters know they’re both one-of-a-kind.