The Big Day

My daughter was looking forward to her first day at school. I had long been preparing her for the day she would leave her little nursery school and join the neighborhood children in “the big school”. She was not at all nervous or concerned, just anxious to get started in a new adventure. Her reaction was typical. She was just like her mother. Everything was under control.

Her backpack was ready. It contained a brand new composition book, two sharpened pencils, a pocket pack of tissues and a bag lunch. She had been drilled in her name, address and telephone number until she could recite them in her sleep. She knew how to use a telephone and what to do if she was lost. Her nursery school teacher had taught her how to read and write. She was as prepared for school as any child could be. She couldn’t wait. She had everything under control.

We walked hand in hand to the school a few short blocks away, reviewing at each corner the proper way to cross the street. Finally, the school building appeared ahead of us, luring us into the schoolyard with the sound of happy children running about. A whistle signaled it was time to assemble into class groups and I searched around, looking for her class’s assigned spot. As I straightened her collar and smoothed her hair, I remembered my own first day in school. Little had changed in so many years, just the players. Now I was the one pushing my first born to try her wings. I was the one looming tall over a sea of tiny, innocent faces. I smiled to myself, making the obvious comparisons, and gave her a last hug and kiss before her class began filing into the school building. Just before she disappeared into the doorway, she turned around, searching. She broke into a big smile and waved when she saw me. Then she was gone.

In that moment before she vanished, a hundred thoughts ran through my head. My child was starting school. By the time she was done, she’d no longer be my little girl. My baby was growing up. She would someday leave me. That’s what I was training her for. That’s what school was all about.

I turned on my heel and quickly headed back home, with tears welling up in my eyes. I didn’t want her to see. I didn’t want anyone to see. I was totally out of control.


by Gitana the Creative Diva (a participant in The Moth Storytelling Showcase at Mill Basin)