Sunday, August 18, 2013

The First Day

This past Saturday was the first day since the death of my father that I did not speak to my mother. It wasn't that I didn't try. I called and texted. Our schedules just did not coincide and so the sun set and both of us ended our days without speaking to each other.

This saddened me incredibly. As I realized that touching base with my mom wasn't going to happen, I also realized that perhaps speaking to her was more for me than for her. She could have called me. She has never asked or even hinted that she needed me or my siblings to talk to her every day. In some small way, perhaps I figured it was a gesture that I could complete that would allow me to feel important and helpful, as if a daily phone call from me could somehow help to compensate for the loss of her husband. As I said, the call, I realized last night, was for me. I'm the one who needs it.

I didn't like how missing this conversation with my mom for the first time made me feel. Therefore, it will inspire me to continue, for my sake, to pick up the phone and call her. There will undoubtedly be a second time, third, fourth and maybe even tenth. But, the pain of this first time will inspire me to continue to reach out via phone and touch my mom.

The first time that something happens is filled with poignancy. The first time you drive a car by yourself. Your first kiss. The first time you hold your child in your arms. The death of a loved one. The first time you try a new dessert, or listen to a new song or watch a new movie. The first of something, while not necessarily the best, is usually incredibly memorable. Research supports this; which is why, especially for pleasure, we often continue to seek out new and novel treats. The surprise adds to the effect.

The first day of school is always filled with emotion and is usually more memorable than the rest of the year. A new classroom, a new teacher, new books, new supplies, new classmates, new clothes, new backpacks, new shoes, a new year. Unlike the first day of the calendar year, the first day of school isn't just an extension of the last day of last year. All of these novel features make the first day feel incredibly new. The first day, therefore, becomes very memorable and has the potential to allow a student, teacher, administrator and even parent to be different than previous campaigns.

The death of my father changed me. I make a point to connect with my mother every day and my siblings much more often than I had prior to his passing. This novel event changed me. It changed the person that I was and the person that I wanted to become. Missing a day to talk to my mom will only reinforce my desire to continue to be this new creation.

In a similar way, the first day of school, because of its novelty, can inspire monumental and permanent changes. Students can recommit to having exemplar behavior or completing all of their homework or just studying harder or taking school more seriously. Teachers can rededicate themselves to their profession and with each new school year comes the opportunity to correct last year's mistakes and try the things that weren't attempted in the past. They can be the teacher they always thought they'd be. Administrators get another chance to reestablish policies, procedures, climate and areas of emphasis. Parents can re-devote themselves to working with their child(ren) and their child(ren)'s teacher(s) for the success of their kid(s). They can re-create more time in their schedules for their families and make this year like the one they always envisioned it would be.

The first day of school will be memorable. In a similar way, the year will be as well. But, the year will only be as good (or bad) as we make it. Homework will be forgotten, morning schedules and routines will cause a tardy to school, tempers may flare and patience may be lost. But, perhaps this year those negative things will be the exception rather than the rule and perhaps the first time these things happen will be so poignant, so impactful, and so meaningful that they become the only time.

Happy first day of school. May it be filled with blessings beyond what you can even conceive or imagine.

May your first day, and the entire year, be amazing!