That went quick. It feels like just a few weeks since I posted First Day of Kindergarten.
Like any big moment, that one could have spawned any number of blog topics. Back then it struck me to write about change in the macro - how my son was boarding a bus into a very different world than I had. Closer to home, significant change was looming in the micro, too. And not just in a standard our-baby’s-grown-up-and-going-to-school kind of way. We went through that with the first one. This first-day-of-kindergarten moment was different, a uniquely significant transition for the younger son. We were more than a little worried about sending him off alone on that bus.
He was already reading at a 3rd grade (or better) level, and was a smart, inquisitive kid - so we weren’t worried about that part. For all his academic prowess, though, his people skills were not so natural. He was shy - at least painfully awkward shy, but really, more like terrified. This was the kid who’d be with his cousins for four days at Thanksgiving - and then take two days at Christmas before he’d even look at them, much less talk to them, even though he knew exactly who they were. This was the kid who stared sullen at the ground for hours around my wife's award-winning, kid-magnet teacher friends (the same teachers who’d charm the socks off any other kid in milliseconds.) When he finally did say something, it was "I don't like people."
You can’t see the look on my son’s face in that first day of kindergarten picture - but in his mind, it was time to “be a big kid." As soon as that bus pulled up, he moved toward it, resolute. He had no doubt, there was no looking back - he was going to do this, even if that meant heading into a whole world of strange new people. He gave a bold little wave once he was settled in his seat - and he was off. Meanwhile, Kathleen and I were far less settled. I was praying for him off and on all day long, more than a little nervous for the poor guy - half expecting we’d get a call from the school that he'd simply melted down from being around so many new faces.
And just like that - quicker than the fade out and flash forward in some melodramatic docudrama - he's getting off the bus at the end of his last day of school.
That’s my boy, the same kid from the earlier picture, with another inch or two on him. Except he's a different kid. You can see it in his exit from the bus - his enthusiasm, his confidence. He spent all day around lots of people who were total strangers just 6 months earlier, yet he was comfortable and totally in his element - even had a bunch of new friends. Just a few days before that, he was excited - anticipating even - the great day he was going to have because he was chosen to read something, in front of not just his class, but the whole school assembly.
That picture is the painfully shy kid? Excited to get up in front of the whole school? Looking like he’s had that mic in his hand almost as long as Mick Jagger? The same kid who ran the other direction when mall Santa smiled at him? Yep, that’s the same kid. He's changed.
Change is hard. Really hard. There’s a hundred reasons for you, your parents, your friends, your coworkers, your boss, your whole ecosystem, to worry about it, defer it, talk yourself out of it. Until you set your jaw and stride toward the bus. Then one day, when the angst and poignancy and enormity of that step has long faded, you'll finally grab a moment to reflect - and realize you're in such a comfortable spot that it’s not even the new normal anymore, because you can't really remember the old normal.
That bus won’t sit there for long. Are you getting on …?
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