“I’m Rooting for You” (A First-Timer on the First Day of School)


It came out of nowhere. A rush of emotions were ready to spill out of me, but we were about to go on a tour of kindergarten, and I had to get it together. How did this happen so quickly? Where did the time go?

Every cliché in the book about your child growing up was running through my head as I tried not to let my son see any of this on my face and mistake it for fear. I looked at him, and all of a sudden, this little face was looking up at me as we were about to enter into the building. He was excited, nervous with anticipation.

As we toured the building, I listened to the principal as he spoke, but mostly I watched my son take in “big-kid school” for the first time. The large hallways, the artwork outside of the classrooms, the desks set up in such a way. He was taking it all in with childish wonder. He kept saying, “Mom, look at that!” or, “Mom, can you believe we get to do this!” I should have been excited that he was so comfortable with what would become the start of his academic career.

I was excited, but a small part of me was sad. Because no longer could I pretend that he was a toddler (a stretch at almost five, but I was in comfortable denial). This solidified him growing up, of becoming a legitimate kid. He was going to be a kindergartener.

There are many emotions at play this day. It is the first time your child is officially going to “big-kid school.” The days of toddlerhood and preschool are now behind. School has officially begun. And with that comes a time of reflection. Of all he has done, all he has learned.

But it’s also a time to look to the future. I think of my hopes and dreams for my child, for all children, as they start out on this adventure known as their education. It is important for us as parents to take these feelings and turn them into something productive for our children.

Let them try, and be there to nourish them through their trials and tribulations. Let them grow and learn on their own but with us as their compass. Help them but don’t stifle them. It’s a balance for sure. One that this year will have me understanding in a whole new way.

As we watch our little ones anxiously get ready for their first day of school, I can’t help but think of the things I want for him this year. Things that I think will help to mold him, to make him a well-rounded kid.

These things I hope:

  • I hope you make at least one friend who can help you navigate through this new experience and make you feel a little more comfortable every day you walk in the door.
  • I hope you enjoy learning, and that if it gives you any trouble, we find the right balance to make it enjoyable.
  • I hope you can navigate the social element in school. I know it’s not easy for you to give in and to not be in charge (it’s that only child thing again), but I hope that all we have worked on and talked about comes through to make it a little bit easier for you to cope with.
  • I hope you like your teachers and that they make your young mind excited about learning.
  • I hope you can look back on these days sometime and remember them fondly. Remember that your first year of school was something special because I do believe that it is the start of you becoming your true self.

A few days after that orientation, my little big kid’s new beginning still on my mind, out of nowhere, he turned to me and said, “I’m rooting for you.” Startled, I said “Bud, do you know what that means?” Very sincerely he replied, “Yes, it’s when you are cheering for someone. To do good or something.”

The smile was beginning to spread across my face. “What are you rooting me on for, honey?” And with the utmost sincerity, that only a young child seems to be capable of expressing, he looked right at me and said, “I’m rooting for you because I love you.”

Just like that, I realized I had to be ready because he was ready. I could give him the tools and lay down the foundation for what I hope is a well-rounded child. That’s all any of us can really do when we are sending them on their way, no matter what the stage of life is.

We can wish and hope for the best. We can be their biggest cheerleaders. We root for them. We root for them because we love them.