In less than two weeks, my three children head back to school. This year is the first year that my youngest will be in school all day away from home. The moment he gets on the bus will be bittersweet, of course, but I’ll be sure to document it well with photographs of his beaming face as he embraces what it means to be a big boy.
One tradition that I started when my first-born went off on the bus for the first time was to take a short video of him, standing by a certain rock in the yard that borders the driveway where we wait for the bus. In the video, he stands tall and brave, but his eyes dart a little nervously. He responds to my questions a little cautiously: what grade are you, who is your teacher, what are you looking forward to the most? The video takes less than three minutes, but it will be a catalogue of memories through the years, for all of my children as they grow.
Of course, I also take photos, some with my children alone and some with their other friends that wait for the bus at the same stop at the top of our driveway. It will give us some context. A special treat for everyone is in order: a home-baked mini muffin, stickers for notebooks or a school-themed fake tattoo, placed on the back of the hand to remind them that home is not far away, whenever they need to look.
Some parents make a ritual of driving their kids in to school on the first day, but we don’t. When everyone does it, it doesn’t seem so special to me. Plus, the day is chaotic enough as it is for the teachers and staff without adding one more car in the drop-off line, one more furtive kiss as the car behind honks impatiently. I’d rather send them off in calm and peace and ready for adventure.