Coming of Age
My deepest sympathies go out to all of those parents whose children started kindergarten this morning. That must be very difficult to see your young one, possibly a daughter, reach a milestone where she begins to spend more time away from home, out of your direct supervision. I can only imagine the ache you must feel when you watch that daughter sit down in her classroom with a big smile beaming on her face as she shoots you a thumbs up, as if she were just fine with this whole thing – as if she were somehow excited to leave the house and explore what the world has to offer without clutching to your hand the whole time. It must make your stomach churn to realize that she is no longer, and never again will be, that little toddler who would run to you to kiss her “owies”, needed to eat with a bib, and fit comfortably in your arms as she nuzzled her tired little head into your shoulder as you rocked her to sleep. That’s gotta be rough… for you. That’s gotta be really, really rough for you. I think if I were in a situation like that – where I were mercilessly forced to witness my own flesh and blood spreading her wings and venturing out farther from the nest than ever before – I would probably be in complete and total denial. I think, for me, the thought of my dear, sweet, first born child getting increasingly more influence from peers and teachers while simultaneously getting less from me would be terrifying. Somehow, letting go of the near-monopoly you have on her access to the world would need to become bearable to you. But you know what I bet is the absolute worst part – for you? I bet it’s the thought that she might realize you are not Superman. You are not the coolest person on the planet.
Or maybe what’s even worse, but far too painful to face, is the cruel indifference of time – the momentum of aging – that ensures you can never again revisit the joys of her youth. Like trying to hold back the rushing waters of a massive river with a soup spoon, you desperately try to retain some sense of constancy. As covertly as a virus lays in wait to overtake the body, she will somehow lose interest in her dolls and princess dresses, opting instead to work out math problems or sit and read a book without your help.
What is it like, you poor, pitiful parent, to know that your importance in her life is slowly but surely fading away? It is inevitable that she will someday be repulsed at the thought of doing things with you that she used to beg you to do. She will laugh when you suggest going to the park together, cringe at the idea of browsing a pet store with you near, roll her eyes when you mention playing “Go Fish”. And you will sit there and wonder to yourself, “Where did the time go?” How could you possibly cope with that?
Yes, having a daughter begin school must be a sad and difficult position to be in. For you.