Do you remember feeling excited about the first day of school? I do. Feeling butterflies flitting around inside my stomach as the anticipation rose to ride a bus for the first time, meet my new teacher, and find out who was in my class. (Back in the day, we didn’t receive advance notification of teacher and classroom assignments.)
My mother immortalized — once — my first day of school. I was starting second grade. I love this photo not only because it reflects the 1970s so perfectly, it also shows that I didn’t get new clothes – that short dress was also my Easter outfit when I was four!
I can remember the day my oldest son began kindergarten. I’m pretty sure neither of us slept the night before as we each overwhelmed with anticipation. By the time I came downstairs in the morning, Cooper had already dressed himself in his uniform and sat eating a bowl of cereal, his suede oxfords dangling beneath our sturdy table because his feet couldn’t reach the floor.
Dropping him off that first day broke my heart a little. He bound into the classroom and marched up to his teacher to say, “Hi.” I never got to kiss him goodbye nor a chance to wish him a good day. My sadness was tempered by the knowledge that he felt assured and comfortable.
A tradition I began on that very first day was taking photos of my kids, dressed and ready. In our old home, pictures were snapped in our living room. But for the past eight years, I’d march them out to the same birch tree out in our front yard and take photos of them individually and together, often with their overstuffed backpacks touching. I’d then arrange them by the dogwood tree and snap more images until they’d groan, “Are you done?”
Here’s what I love about our tradition: The annual images reflect the evolution of their excitement to begin again along with their emerging personalities. They started out with matching summer uniforms to free-form attire or dress pants and a tie. Once my eldest began high school, he left so early in the morning that his photos were snapped in the dark! That’s the year when there were no more pictures of my kids together for the first day photo op – their paths diverged.
So what do I do with all these pictures? How can I make the memories come alive?
I see others who are much craftier than me (not a hard thing to be) posting their photos on Facebook. Their cherubs hold cute blackboards on which names and grades are written. I create an annual “Year-in-Review” book for my children and always include their first day photos. Others scrapbook. Some save the images to their computers for use at a later date.
What traditions do your family follow on the first day of school? Hop over to our Facebook page and share your pictures and stories.