This is Elementary School Eve.

The kids are already tucked in their beds, on time. Maybe even early. They’re freshly bathed for the first time it what seems like weeks. Their outfits for the morning are actually laid out, which means their socks will match at least for one day.

This is elementary school eve.

Even more than birthdays it seems the start of the school year brings out the biggest emotions of all for us parents. The kind of emotions too big to escape any other way than streams of water down your cheeks. They are the tears of excitement and joy, hope and fear, nostalgia and promise.

There is the excitement of a class full of new friends and new things to be learned. The excitement of pizza day in the cafeteria and meetups at the swings during recess. There is the excitement of fresh bookbags, supplies and clothes before the tatters of monotony begin to show.

There is joy in watching them grow another year older and more capable. The joy of watching them actually do this thing called life. The joy of watching them accomplish new things, even if it is just tying their shoes.

There is so much hope in every new year. Hope that the teacher will see your child for who they are. That the other kids will be kind. That your kid will be kind. That they will learn and flourish. That if they struggle, they will ask for help. There is hope that this will be the best one yet.

And then comes the fear. The fear of putting them on the bus and trusting they’ll find their way safely. The fear of bullying, or even worse, school shootings. It all has to cross your mind these days.

Elementary school eve takes you back—right back to Ms. Arnold’s first-grade class where you remember mostly recess, PE and singing M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I as fast as you could when you were next in line for the water fountain. Your eyes well with tears when you feel the excitement of that first day of school, and release the floodgates when you relive your first trip to the nurse—your first big scrape without your mom. 

Tonight is quiet and everyone’s actually prepared (for once). In the silence, you can feel the promise of a fresh start. Tomorrow morning we will stand at bus stops with smiles on our faces and lumps in our throats. (And please, Lord, let there also be hot coffee in my hand). And when we do, we have the same hope that they will learn and grow and be good to one another.

This is elementary school eve.

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