We stood on the corner waiting for the yellow school bus. It was 6:50 am. His blue backpack looked too big for his small 7 year old frame. He was getting on a school bus for the very first time. My heart was beating a little faster, my breath was a little shallow – I was feeling nervous. What are the benefits of firsts I quietly asked myself?
I’ve been thinking a lot about firsts lately. September tends to feel like a brand new start when you have children who are school age. This will be my youngest son’s third new school in his fourth year of attending school. There will be new teachers, new students, new protocols to learn.
This will be the first year our older two boys will be taking public transportation both ways to and from school. We used to drive them in the mornings most of the way, but we’re trying to give them more responsibility and allow them to do things independently when they are able. They’re able to take public transportation. They’re able to wake up by an alarm clock (versus being dragged out of bed by a parent).
The Anxiety of Firsts
These “firsts” have brought up a lot of anxiety.
“How do I set my alarm!!”
“What if I’m late for school?”
“What if you’re not there when the bus drops me off?”
“What if my son doesn’t make any new friends?”
We’ve had to patiently answer questions repeatedly. We’ve had to review public transportation maps, timelines, and route options. We’ve had to reassure that we would be where we said we would be – that they would not be left. I’ve had to reassure myself that friendships will come and to pray instead of worry.
The Benefits of Firsts
These firsts have brought a sense of accomplishment. My son taking public transportation both ways has been a way for him to work through his anxiety. He came home the first day stating that everything went smoothly and that his worst scenarios didn’t happen. That’s important for him to experience in as many ways as we can orchestrate.
These first have brought a lot of excitement too. My youngest son is actually excited to ride a school bus for the long morning and afternoon commute. When we decided to send our youngest son to a new school this year, we knew it would have to be to a private school since he didn’t get into any of the charter schools we had applied to. We toured different programs and sent him on different shadow days. It opened our eyes to a whole new world of possibilities.
My son would quietly reflect on how different the private schools were from his public school classrooms after spending a day shadowing. He shared how the private school environments made him feel and act differently. When he was accepted and the scholarship package was generously offered, we gratefully accepted this “first” for our son. This first promised smaller classrooms, nurtured and nurturing teachers, time in nature, and resources.
Firsts are uncomfortable, but they are opportunities for growth.
Firsts allow us to expand our vision of who we are and what we can do.
Our family never considered private schools as an option until two years ago. We were “public school” advocates, learning the system and fighting for our children to get in to the best or good schools within the city. I never let myself consider any other option.
My story isn’t advocating private school versus public school – that decision is a personal choice that I know families consider very carefully for each of their children. My story is to encourage you to consider options that you may not even know about right now – when it comes to schools for your children and any other area of life.
I used to say that I wasn’t a runner, because I had never enjoyed running. When I was 41 I started running – and enjoying it. I ran my first 5k in October 2013 and my first 10 mile run in May 2015. I had to declutter my negative thoughts and approach life with curiosity and a willingness to be open to “firsts.”
RELATED: Decluttering Negative Self Talk
As I watch my sons approach their own firsts with a little fear and a lot of courage and excitement, I’m asking myself what “firsts” I’ll take on this Fall.
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How about you? Let me know in the comments if you’ve experienced a “first” this Fall. I’d love to know!
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