This long summer is over but something new begins for so many young people and not only. The first day of school is approaching!!!! First day of kindergarten, first day of elementary school, middle school, high school. Who of us doesn’t remember the awaiting days on the first day of school? The emotion in front of that big door that marked the entry into a new world. The chaos of colourful backpacks, new faces of adults and children.
Ultimately an unforgettable experience for everyone
But who was with us in those moments? We wanted them to hold our hands but at the same time to let us go. The first day of school is an unforgettable date even for parents who see for the first time their children turn their back and say bye.
We have read in many articles published on this blog that separations is life and even this moment, the first day of school (but also all the following days!) is a separation.
For the children that first day of school is a challenge with a greater reality, with their new way of being that they will discover in the encounter with others, schoolmates and teachers. The world widens and becomes significant beyond the walls of one’s own home.
But even parents experience something new, or rather they test their ability to separate, to let go what before depended entirely on them. Bringing a child to life and promoting their growth and development as an individual affectively bound but humanly separated and with their own identity is the project of being parents.
Until the day before you were the whole world and the reality for your son but at some point he starts asking things with his own voice, he starts walking and exploring, he goes away … and then he goes to school. That is, he grows up, he relates to other children like him but also to other adults. So the primacy of the parents who are the only custodians of knowledge falters and others are there to respond, to support, to make children grow. Constant protection for your child will no longer pass by just holding his hand and picking him up from the ground when he falls. Allowing him to manage on his own, to relate to others and to find a source of knowledge, certainties, reassurances and confirmations in someone else is the trial of parents “on the first day of school”
Then, in moms and dads at times you can unleash anxieties, worries, sometimes anguish at the sound of the bell that marks the beginning of school as if they no longer distinguish themselves from what their children are. It can happen that they live that moment of realization that is the first day of school with sorrow, as if they were abandoned, as if they lost their sense without their children by the hand, as if they lost control, as if it were dangerous or “the end of the games”. This malaise of the parents, visible or invisible as it is, will act also on the youngest. They will not understand it as adults can understand it, but they will feel that school is dangerous, that it makes mom sad, that makes dad agitated and then it may happen that for the child it’s not worth it. It’s better to stay home than to make mom and dad feel bad. “Too bad, school seemed so beautiful, colourful, with so many new friends! Too bad I was curious to learn from the teacher everything I still do not know! But I prefer not to go to not make everyone feel bad!”. That explains a lot of stomach aches, a lot of crying, a lot of whims on the first or second day of school. The child prefers to give up on themselves.
That letting us go and letting us go off the hand we ask the children is the same we should have done at our “first day of school”. But if when it was our time we did not succeed, they did not help us, there remains in us the lack of notwithstanding separations, new movements, our successes and those of others, the growing identity of a child.
Once again, however, feeling that something is wrong is the best thing that can happen because we can start a research, ask questions. Even a mom and dad can ask for help!
Almost a hundred years ago the Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran wrote…
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
Thanks to Chiara Fanasca for the translation of this article