‘Twas The Night Before…

… her first day of school, when all thro’ the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse – except the sound of my heart beating and savagely pounding against my chest. Was my daughter feeling this way as well? I don’t know because she was already fast asleep although I knew that she too was nervous. She said so earlier when I asked her how she was feeling about school.

“I’m scared, Dad.”

My heart melted, and I wanted to tell her (so bad!) that she didn’t have to go to school, that we will teach her everything and that I will teach her the ways of the force. But, I knew I could not say that to her.

“I know babe, but you are going to do great, you’re a brave little girl,” I cupped her face in my hands and looked into her eyes, “You got this!”

“What if I don’t make any friends?”

She was killing me and I did my best to console her which seemed to work. I tried to make this “last day of freedom” fun for her. She hung out with her cousins and I even purchased her a new toy, but I know that the idea of starting school for the very first time lingered in her head. There was something in her demeanor that spewed worry and concern; she was not her bubbly happy (and sassy) self. She wasn’t sad, but I could tell, as the minutes and hours ticked by that school was on her mind.

The feeling was mutual. I was absolutely terrified of dropping my baby off in the morning and leaving her there, alone, with strangers. For the entirety of my daughter’s life, up until now, she spends her days with family so leaving her out there, in the world on her own, is not something we are used too. Sure, she was in ballet for a time and is now in gymnastics, but either my wife or I am always there with her.

School is another beast entirely. There, we can’t be with her all the time to watch her, to make sure she is OK and that she is being treated fairly and not being bullied by other kids. Yes, she will have to learn the truths of life/reality and that not everything is as hunky-dory as it is in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. I wish it were.

I had a hard time sleeping last night. Watching my daughter sleep, I did something I had not done in such a long time – I prayed. Not to anyone (or anything) in particular, but I said a little prayer to whatever is out there with the hopes of it hearing me to provide me with some clarity and serenity. I needed peace of mind, and I needed something/someone to help guide me towards that tranquility.

This moment was inevitable. We knew that Ray would be going to school one day and here it was, finally! My wife spoke about her going to school since she was born but I always brushed it off, “We have plenty of time to worry about that.” And how quick the time went! This is surreal. Truly, where did the time go?

I woke up this morning feeling better, despite only having two or three hours worth of shut-eye. My nervousness was now replaced with excitement! It was like Christmas morning. I got up, cooked my daughter breakfast, charged the batteries for my camera and woke her up with a giant smile on my face. She opened her eyes and discounted me and my grin – more sleep is what she wanted. After a tickle here and there, she woke up and there were no signs of jitters. She got dressed, ate some of her breakfast and before we knew it, we were on the road towards her school.

We get there and we are, as one would come to expect, taking pics and videos galore. By this time, I think Ray was annoyed at us, and we were those parents. She walked down a short corridor after we checked her in and was greeted by her teacher. She turned around and gave us a slight wave, or was it a gesture of dismissal? I didn’t want to leave her but, alas, I knew that we had to set her free and let her be to face this new chapter in her life.

My wife and I came back home and just spoke in amazement of having just dropped off our daughter at school! How did this happen? Like my childhood “hero,” Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

I am at peace for now, until she goes to high school, then college! I’ll worry about that at another time but, for now, I will enjoy where she is right now.

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