Off to School

I took Girl Child back to university today.  She’s starting her [gasp!!!] Senior year.  This ended up being the hottest day here in the past three weeks, making for a sweaty move, but as Daughter Person pointed out, “At least it’s not raining…”

As we drove there, I found myself wondering how the hell we got through three years of university without it seeming to take a moment to pass by. I swear I feel I just blinked and here we already are at her last year. And it brought to mind a moment that made a big impact on me those three years ago when she was heading off to her first year of university – – –

So there I was.  My youngest offspring was heading off to her Freshchick year of university.  There was a lot of angst and fear in the household, especially with Girl Child.  Sure, she’d been away from home for a week at a time here or there, but this was really like moving out.  Because I was concerned that she was being emotionally fragile, I was taking on the ‘strong father’ role.  Joking, organizing, planning….  The intent being that she would see me and be calmer.

Comes the day we actually have to pack the van and head east.  It’s a Friday, before Labor Day weekend.  First years have to be there the entire weekend to participate in orientation things.  Daughter Person is stressing, but hanging in.  I’m doing okay – – – until….

Just so happens that is the first day of  grade school in the area.  Here I am, bravely packing the van to take my youngest – – my daughter – – my baby girl – – off to university, away from my protective and loving care.  I’m okay…

Then, coming down the street…a little girl, no more than six and probably even just five.  Her father holding her petite hand, walking slowly to match the pace of her little legs.  She’s wearing a pretty dress, clearly bought new for this momentous occasion.  She has a look of cautious excitement.  A tentative smile as she heads off to what’s likely her first day of school… leaving the protection and loving care of her parents.  And there, her father, a brave smile on his part as he walks to hand off the treasure of his heart to those who would educate her.

Our eyes briefly meet… a slight smile on both of our faces…

And my feigned bravery for my daughter evaporates in barely stifled tears at the raw juxtaposition–the irony–of these parallel events…

What chances led to such then… and remembering today still makes my eyes leak…

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13 Responses to “Off to School”

  1. anniegirl1138 Says:

    I guess the nice thing about being a parent is that we never really run out of “firsts”, do we?

  2. Mandy de Waal Says:

    Amazing those moments of brief intimacy between strangers – that recognition of something in someone you’ve never met before. I love that.

  3. Dolce Says:


  4. daisyfae Says:

    sweet… i was known for crying on the first day of school every year. that and taking a pic of the kids. it got to where they agreed to take the photo inside (no smiles, just growls and snarls) when i threatened to take the photo as the bus pulled up to the stop…

    (sigh) goes by like a blink, don’t it?

  5. Stephanie of Stopbouncing Says:

    Drat, I wanted to keep reading your post, but it seems something has become lodged in my eye.

    I sent this over to my dad.

  6. The Unbearable Banishment Says:

    I sent my daughter off to 1st grade this morning. You pray for a little breathing room and when you get it, it makes you sad. Lord, what a long-assed road it’s going to be until I get to where you are today.

  7. kyknoord Says:

    The important thing is not to blink.

  8. Rob Says:

    Well, I don’t want to sound like a wet blanket, but once they move out, move back, move out, move back, move out, move back you really start to wish that they would just get on with it already…and the only emotion left is thinly veiled impatience.

    I was informed that, statistically, in Canada the average age at which a child leaves home now is 32. Yes, 32! And that’s average!!

  9. Kym Says:

    I was all teary eyed comparing your post with the fact that my own 18 year old is at college. Then I read Rob’s comment and burst out laughing…

    my son’s going to a community college and still at home.

  10. Parenthesis Says:

    Oh sweet. I like a man who isn’t afraid to cry 🙂

  11. thegnukid Says:

    annie – and i am amazed at some of those… you can prepare for them, but when they hit… wow…

    mandy de waal – sort of makes us believe in the one-ness of the human race. we’re not all that different, despite how so alone we sometimes feel.

    dolce – yeah, a bit of glurge… but heartfelt glurge!

    daisyfae – wow, you were much better than i on pictures. i only got the first few years of elementary. would have been nice to have each year. those will be precious treasures for you later in life.

    stephanie – [tender smile] happy to have made an impact… and glad you shared with the popster…

    t.u.b. – you can do it. there are many moments of happiness in there as well. look for those on purpose.

    kyknoord – is that even possible? you first. ready?…. GO! [and he’s on the clock]… (and, yeah, would be nice if it were possible to catch it all)

    rob – [laughin’] thank you for the anti-glurge. puts some perspective on the joys (and not) of raising the little alien clones

    kym – ah, the yin and yang of child-rearing. a daily event, it seems, seeing both sides of the coin… but aren’t you damned proud both of them are going to college?

    p – a good swift stomp on a little toe does it all the time for me. ;->

  12. leavingevangeline Says:

    Oh good grief. I thought I was fresh outta tears! Damn you Gnu!

    I have no children…but am very close to my Daddy…and my heart fills up when I think back on the memories we made together. Your daughter will have beautiful memories too, of her sweet father.


  13. thegnukid Says:

    leavingevangeline – hopefully they were tears of happy memories. there should always be some of those available. call your Daddy and tell him how you feel about him… that’d be the best.

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