Hellos and good-byes: school 2012

In the office it’s raining school forms. At this time of year, I see many of my patients embarking on their next stage of schooling. Kids I remember starting kindergarten are off to high school. Babies are starting daycare and  teens are starting college. For all the parents who have a child entering a new school, whether it’s preschool or college, this letter is for you:

My Child,

As we sit, the night before kindergarten, your toes peeking out from under the comforter, I notice that your toes are not so little anymore.

Tomorrow those toes will step up onto to the bus and carry you away from me. Another step towards independence. Another step to a place where I can protect you less. But I do notice that those toes have feet and legs which are getting stronger. You’re not as wobbly as you used to be. Each time you take a step you seem to go farther and farther.

I trust that you will remember what I’ve taught you. Look both ways before you cross the street, chose friends who are nice to you, and whatever happens don’t eat yellow snow. I also trust that there are other eyes and hearts who will watch and guide you.

But that won’t stop me from worrying about each step you take.

Won’t stop me from holding my breath­.

Just like when you first started to walk, I’ll always worry when you falter.

I smile because I know you’ll hop up onto the bus tomorrow, proud as punch, laughing and disappearing in a sea of waving hands. I just hope that at some point, those independent feet will proudly walk back and stand beside me.

Maybe it will be when you first gaze into your newborn’s eyes, or maybe it will be when your child climbs onto the bus.

Until then,

I hold my breath each time you take a step.


No matter the stage, to smooth your child’s (and your) transition, remember the basic rules of daycare drop-off:

  • Always convey to your child that the transition is a positive experience. You give your child cues on how to act in any situation. Better to convey optimism than anxiety.
  • Take your child and place her into the arms of a loving adult- do not leave her alone in the middle of a room.
  • Do not linger. Prolonging any tears, only prolongs tears. The faster you leave, the faster happiness will start.
  • It’s ok to go back and spy on them to reassure yourself that they have stopped crying- just don’t let them see you.
For more back-to-school related posts, please be sure to read
How can I motivate my child in school- creating the resilient learner
When children should stay home from school for medical reasons (or listen to our podcast on this subject)
Packing your child’s school lunch: beware of junk food disguised as healthy food
Avoid back strain: what to look for in a school backpack
Wake up, sleepyhead, it’s time for school – how to shift your child’s sleep into a pattern more compatible with school hours

Naline Lai, MD and Julie Kardos, MD

reformatted from original 8/17/09 post
©2012 Two Peds in a Pod®

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