Years ago I wrote this column about our oldest grandchild starting first grade. I blinked, and this year she’s a senior in college! May the first day of school be a good start for all kids everywhere.
Is there anything more exciting than the first day of school? This is the excitement born of freshly sharpened pencils, crisp paper in a shiny new notebook, and a backpack of possibilities. As parents and grandparents we send our children out the door so equipped and hope and pray that this year all their teachers will see their lovable qualities and overlook the rest.
I shared in the excitement last year because my oldest granddaughter was beginning first grade. I was so excited for her I could hardly sleep the night before her first day of school. As I tossed and turned, I tried to think of just the right words to use when I called to encourage her the next morning. I wanted to say something that would give her confidence and build her self-esteem without putting undue pressure on her.
Finally, it was time to get up and place the call. Even though I called at 7 a.m., Francesca was already dressed and waiting for the school bus.
“Hi, Francesca,” I began. “I bet you’re excited this morning!” She said she was, so I launched into my premeditated words of encouragement.
“I know you’re going to do well,” I said. “You’re bright, you’re talented, and you’re a hard worker, aren’t you?”
“And,” Francesca responded excitedly, “I’m wearing bright yellow socks!”
“That should clench it then,” I said as I realized that from her six-year-old perspective she had absolutely everything she needed. My husband and I had a good laugh when I repeated her comment to him, but later I started thinking more seriously about those bright yellow socks.
How little it takes to encourage children, and how sad it is when kids have to go to school without breakfast or a pat on the back, not to mention new socks.
Francesca has a chance to get off on the right foot for her coming 16 years of education because she has two parents who love her, believe in her, and will do all they can to make sure she has whatever she needs. That just isn’t the case for so many kids in America today.
Clothes don’t make the man, the woman, or the first-grader, but shouldn’t every child know the excitement of new school clothes at least once? Hand me downs are fine for the rest of the year, but not for the first day of school.
I made a vow to contribute to the next charity collecting funds to buy coats for school children, and decided to buy more lottery tickets. After all, if I won all that money, I could go out and buy bright yellow socks for everyone!
(Photo is of grandsons Liam and Peter in 2011.)