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Back To School Challenge: Tears

We never appropriately anticipate the unexpected, do we?

Tears.

I never expected it.

She didn’t want summer vacation to begin because she loved her teachers. She loved her classmates. She loved school. And on the last day, there were tears. But she got over it. The very next day.

Over the summer, she played. She traveled. She did what children have done for decades. They enjoyed their summer vacation with friends and family, learning and experiencing new things. And some days, they did absolutely nothing. Just hanging out being a kid.

That’s what a nine-year-old is supposed to do, right?

Absolutely.

On the first day of grade four, the tears started when my daughter realized that her best friend wasn’t in her homeroom class. Then, while I uneventfully escorted her older brother to his classroom, a newer batch of tears materialized because the cloth handle broke on the canvas bag that we used to carry her school supplies. Since I was, at that time, still with her brother, another parent tried comforting my little girl.

I returned to find the concerned parent of another consoling a sobbing little girl. I was embarrassed. I got angry. Her emotionally punishing behaviour was unfair and did not match the crime. We walked to the bathroom so she could wash her face and collect herself. It also gave me time to think about her overreactions, and the insensitive and inappropriate thoughts of mine.

So, there were tears.

So what?

It’s what she needed to do to deal with this new life change - the end of her glorious summer vacation and the beginning of a new school year. Nothing is more constant than change. We may refuse to acknowledge it, or delay it as long as we can, but we all eventually succumb to its indisputable truth.

After escorting her back through the now empty halls to her class, she began tearing again. This time, she said she did not want me to leave. She knew I couldn’t stay. The school doesn’t allow that. We both knew I had to go. Summer was over and grade four had begun. We hugged. I told her that I loved her. And I left because I knew she’d be okay.

I knew my daughter would return to her jovial, confident self in short order. She did. And it happened before the morning recess. At the end of the day, when she and her brother returned home, their spirits were high, their smiles were wide, and their first day stories were plentiful and enthusiastically told. We then shared our traditional, first day of the new school year, A & W root beer float. All was good again in our world.

So, there were tears.

So, what?

My growing daughter doesn’t know this, but maybe she should. Little girls' daddies cry too, and the last tears to fall that day were mine.

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