The dream we all share
Morgan doesn’t look too happy in the photo. He’s wearing a long-sleeve dress shirt and tie – and shorts.
And Michael? He has sort of a why-do-I-have-to-do-this look on his face.
They’re sitting side-by-side, bookbags on their backs, on the front porch of our new home in Albemarle.
It’s our traditional “first day of school” photo.
And it truly is a “first day” for both of them.
For Morgan – a rising tenth grader – it’s his first day in a new high school. I’d just taken the job as superintendent in Stanly County, and we’d moved from a school Morgan loved in Winston-Salem. No wonder he’s not wearing a big smile.
For Michael, it’s the first day of kindergarten, a huge step in his young life.
Now I sit and look at the photo and think how anxious both of them must have been.
How Morgan must be worried about showing up in the dress shirt and tie – even though it’s a requirement because the soccer team he’s on has a game that night.
How he must be anxious about making new friends and learning what’s “cool” at North Stanly High and getting lost between classes. Worried about who to sit with at lunch and what his teachers will be like and if courses will be tougher and if he’ll run into that crowd that just has to make fun of the new guy.
And Michael? What kind of fears does a kindergartener have? How does he know what to be afraid of since he’s heading into something he’s never experienced?
I think back on the first days for my children in school and all we did to get them ready for those first days. The camouflage bookbag Morgan had to have in kindergarten, the trapper keepers that were a must for middle school, the Abercrombie and Fitch in high school.
And I think of how we read to them to get them ready, counted steps, took them to the library and museums, got them “educational” games and toys.
I know our teachers and principals have spent large parts of their summer getting ready for this year’s “first day.”
I know parents have done the same thing.
And I know we both share the same dreams.
We all want our children’s sitting-on-those-steps-posing-for-first-day-photos anxieties to melt away as they become part of their new school or new grade.
And we all – parents and educators – want every one of our children to succeed in school, to finish every school day loving learning and wanting to go back the next day for more.