My daughter starts school tomorrow and I’m nervous. But I’m not nervous for her. I am not worried about her. She has been attending the nursery at the school for a year and loves going there. She is familiar with it, knows the teachers, and on her cooperative days is happy to agree she is excited about starting reception.
My nerves are about me. I am terribly nervous about the first day of school . Almost as if it is my first day and not my daughter’s. Perhaps I have stored away all of the ‘first days’ from my childhood and I’m subconsciously reliving that young angst from all of those years ago.
We hear a lot about helicopter parenting, tiger parenting, and parents living through their children. And this often focuses on parents pressuring children to meet expectations about a successful life. We hear much less about parents feelings about their own lives being reawakened as their children undertake the different rites of passage throughout their lives. What if, as children, we had situations which were not happy ones and we never dealt with how we felt about them? What if we grew up under a cloud of shyness and we were not able to fully enjoy some of the situations because the fog of nerves was too embracing? Do all of those feelings lie dormant?
I loved school until I was about 12-years-old and then puberty took hold and shyness introduced herself. After that followed several angst-ridden teenage years, during which the first days back at school became the times I came not just to to dread, but to dread with regret. Regret because I desperately wanted to enjoy the feelings of newness at the start of each school year – new uniform, new things, new lessons, new teachers, new challenges, maybe even new friends. But all of this eluded me because the fear of the impact of my shyness and eventual experiences of bullying were too great. If I could go back and tell my younger self anything, it would be to put that fear into a box and throw it as far as I can. It has no place. But it feels like, at the moment, some unpleasant feelings are stirring in the form of butterflies in my tummy, because of my long-standing associations of the first day.
For too long I’ve anchored bad associations to first days and I need to pull up that anchor. First days are exciting. They are brand new, unclouded, unfoggy, and most importantly, these first days are my daughter’s, not mine.