Laptops to Crayons
By Angie Seth @kateyGoalie
It such a surreal feeling … Being on a University campus, sitting inside a lecture hall, hearing about T-cards, courses, tutorials, tuition fees, campus life. I am getting shivers down my spine. I can’t believe I am here. “Hey check out this course. I am definitely taking it!” says a familiar voice whispering in my ear. I look to my left – my 18-year-old daughter has her course calendar open in front of her as she peruses through the pages.
How quickly we got here. It was just yesterday I was holding her in my arms, not even a day after she was born – so tiny, so innocent, so perfect, and so completely reliant on me. Today she has graduated high school, has a part-time job, and her drivers’ license. Tears are welling up in my eyes as I write this.
I am so happy for her, but sad. I am thrilled she has made it this far! But I am so sad. I am a proud parent and Mother who has so far guided her daughter to this point in her life with all but a few bumps in the road. I am elated, but sad. I feel like I am going to start hyperventilating. She always says to me, “Don’t worry Ma, you have two more kids to do it with all over again”.
Yet she does not realize how hard it is for a parent to let go. She is my first-born. Watching her grow up has been an amazing adventure. We are so close, we are like sisters, and best friends, and together we begin a new chapter in our lives.
So apart from my mixed crazy emotions, how is she feeling? Well like any teenager starting University she is excited but terrified. Her last few months of high school were very stressful. Marks, marks, marks, was all she kept talking about. There were many times I had to talk her down and help her through the pile of essays, projects, and exams. It was a long process, but extremely important. All this work, preparation, and organization represent the building blocks she needs to prepare for University.
My goodness, I still cannot believe her first day is just a mere few weeks away. So although this is a time I have been dreading, because it means that my little girl, isn’t so little anymore, I have been putting together a mental list of what I need to tell her to prepare her for the next four years of her life.
First and foremost these are supposed to be the next best years of her life. I have told her to make sure she enjoys every moment. University is a time to explore and really put your talents to the test.
Being organized is very important. In University you truly have to fend for yourself. You are a number and no professor is going to come after you reminding you to hand in your “homework” or offer study help.
University also gives her the opportunity to explore her interests. I have told her to choose her courses wisely but to also take courses she will enjoy. This will all lead to her degree and eventually her career.
I have also talked to her about being safe and aware. She and I will be signing up for self-defense classes. Something I recommend to all women and girls. University brings with it a very active social life filled with parties, study labs, late night classes … I want my daughter to have the right skills she needs to take care of herself in any situation.
On the social side, University is where she is going to meet the people who could very well change her life… friends that stick with you through thick and thin … and perhaps that special someone who could be “the one”. I over the years I have helped teach her how to read people and get a sense of who is a true friend versus someone who has a hidden agenda.
Be smart, never hesitate to ask questions, don’t wait to ask for help, and believe in yourself!
Well, as a very proud Mom, I am happy to say my beautiful girl will be attending the University of Toronto. She is truly an amazing kid. She keeps me on my toes, but when I least expect it she also keeps me calm and reassured. She is a great big sister and amazing daughter and friend.
But my story does not end here. There is more. Another daughter of mine is also hitting a major milestone in September. My 3-and-a half-year old will be starting school! Yes, that’s right in the first week in September two of my children will be heading down the path towards a new academic future – one starting University, the other starting Junior Kindergarten!
Once again I am so proud of my little girl, but sad. I am so excited to see her start school, but yet again sad. She talks about going to school everyday. She tells me I need to pack her a lunch with snacks, and that she will take her penguin backpack to school filled with crayons, coloring books, and her baby doll. In her eyes she is totally prepared. Sounds like I have nothing to worry about, right? But there is a catch. She thinks Mommy will be going to school with her.
So here is my dilemma. How to I get her ready for a day of education without Mommy? Well just like I did with my first child, getting her prepared is key. The school my middle child will be going to has a drop in centre for kids and parents 4 days a week. So for the past few months, during the school year, she, my son, and I would go and play at the school.
By doing so, she met her teacher, the school admin assistant, and the principal. She also got to meet some of the kids she will be going to school with. It was a great opportunity to not only get her used to the idea of going to school, but now she is familiar with the school, the route we will walk every morning, and she is excited about this new adventure.
However she is still determined for Mommy to stay with her I know the first day of school is going to be a tough one for both of us. And there will be tears … again for both of us.
But knowing the challenge I have on my hands, I have made it a point to talk to her about school everyday. We talk about the things she will learn, the friends she will make, about her teacher. Each and everyday I remind her how much fun she is going to have that she won’t have to worry about having Mommy there with her. She is young. She won’t be quite 4 yet when she starts JK, but I feel by making this new journey fun and exciting for her, it will really help her transition into a new routine. Our morning regiment has also changed during the weekdays.
We are up by a certain time, we eat breakfast by a certain time, and we plan our day of activities to somewhat mimic what she would be doing in school. Again I hope this will help give her an idea of what things will be like when she actually starts school. It is hard when kids are so used to a routine. Change can be scary and uncomfortable for anyone, not just kids.
But as parents it is our job to help them through it. What I am hoping is these little hints of help will allow her to feel more comfortable and secure when she starts school. So from now until September 3rd, my daughter and I will continue to chat about school everyday.
I will buy her a special school lunch bag that each day will have a special happy face and sticker from Mommy and Daddy to remind her how much we love her and are proud of her. (I used to leave notes in my eldest child’s lunch bag up until she started high school. The other day I found a scrap-book of hers that contained almost every little Mommy love note I wrote her. I was in tears.)
I will reassure her everyday that she is a strong girl who can do anything. We will continue our morning routine with learning activities after breakfast to really get her excited about learning. I will also read her some special first day of school books to help her with the transition.
She will also be in full day JK which will be a new experience for both of us. However she is used to spending a full day with the babysitter, so the hours should not be too taxing on her.
So here is what I can expect in September … Two of my kids … my two beautiful girls heading off to school. One to University, the other to JK … laptops to crayons. The lesson is same, the preparation is slightly different, but the reward is priceless, and the pride is overwhelming. How time flies. So how will the first day of school really play out? Well I am sure the first year will be very interesting with lots of ups and downs, amazing milestones, revelations, and of course excitement. So stayed to find out more in September!
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