Our oldest son, James, started his first year of preschool last week. There was lots of preparation for the big day, and I couldn’t help but notice how different this monumental occasion is for parents in this generation as opposed to previous generations.
The most obvious difference, in my opinion, is the variety of preschool options to choose from. I feel like my generation can be summed up in one catch phrase — TMI (Too Much Information). Unlike our parents, we have the internet at our disposal for researching every possible teaching style, method or program out there. I am lucky enough to have a mother in-law who is a preschool teaching assistant at a co-op school. The school uses a “learn through play” philosophy that we really wanted for our child’s first school experience and that made our decision easy. But I have many friends who have attended multiple open houses, read reviews and painstakingly picked out the best preschool they could afford for their children. Maybe it’s the “millennial way” to over-analyze everything, but picking a preschool these days is no simple task.
So last week week had James all signed up, papers filled out and had the calendar dated with school meetings and class picnics. The next step, of course, was to find a unique, creative way to take his official first-day-of-school picture. Again, this is something that our parents probably did as a quick afterthought as we were running out the door. But as a typical millennial mom, I jumped on Pinterest, scoured boards of ideas, pinned a couple I liked, then set about finding the props and perfect outfit needed for the picture.
I posted a plea on Facebook to my local moms’ group to find out where to shop for shoes and ended up scoring some frugal finds at Nordstrom Rack. Since they were having a sale (which is practically always) at Crazy 8, we found a fun all-green outfit, which James approved of since green is his favorite color. I then took the advice I read on a blog (another crucial millennial mom tactic — using blogs as a main means of advice) and dressed James in his outfit the day before school. We took our time, no stress or time restraints, setup a fun scene outside when the sun was just right, and had a blast doing a laid back photo shoot together. Of course I snapped a couple at his actual school the next day too, but taking the other ones the day before really made school day go so much smoother.
His first day was a shortened half day and all of the parents stayed. I enjoyed taking in every little moment, from him hanging his tote bag on the hook under his name, to sitting on the little carpet square listening to his teachers. My heart just exploded to watch him so eager to learn and be a big boy. My “Time Hop” app reminds me that it was just yesterday when we drove him home from the hospital, had to rock him to sleep and then helped him learn to walk. The tears (for me, not him) came the following school day when the parents didn’t get to stay, and James ran off to his class, without a second glance back.
It can be so easy to share our thoughts and feelings in today’s world, with the multitude of text message emoticons, hashtags on status updates and filters for Instagram pictures. Yet somehow, despite all this, I honestly can’t begin to describe the feelings I have as my child takes that first step into adolescence.
It’s a complicated feeling you get when that school door closes behind you, and your child is left inside to face a world of new concepts, new relationships and new adventures that you may or may not hear about on the drive home after school. But when I do figure out how to describe those feelings, I’ll be sure to blog about it, so you all can “share” it.
If you are starting the preschool search, be sure to check out our preschool directory.
Mandy Watts is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Crownsville with her husband, Justin, who runs their family business, and their two sons, 3-year-old James and 1-year-old Luke.