The First Day

It’s that time of year again. Our newest National Holiday is upon us, and it has snuck up on us like a thief in the night. Whether we are ready or not, it’s here. It’s the First Day of School.

Hallmark hasn’t caught up yet, but give those folks time. Like National Siblings Day, National Lawyer’s Day, or any of the rest of the new special events created for social media, it’s only a matter of time before the greeting card industry spots the opportunity and seizes their moment. Our children cannot start school without it being captured in a picture.

When I was a kid, we just started school on the appointed day and went to school. I think we might have had a half day the first day, and I think my parents might have wished me luck for the year, but I’m pretty sure we just walked in the schoolhouse the first day and away we went. These days, it’s a week-long celebration like Mardi Gras. Schools have orientation, then Meet the Teachers, then Meet the Desks, Meet the [Fill in the Mascot], and then, maybe, after all the pomp and circumstance, we start classes. All of these events are to be documented and shared on social media, or else there is real danger of it not being official. Query– if a child starts school and no one is there to take a picture, do they really start school? Because of the importance of these days, parents are dolling their kids up and threatening them with their lives to be on their best behavior for The First Day. Teachers have to prepare, as well. Not necessarily for their upcoming year, but instead for the week-long Grip and Grin with parents and the never-ending pictures where they will put their arm these little tykes and smile sweetly at the camera with a look reminiscent of those old World War II photographs of solders right before being shipped off to war. It’s The First Day.

An offshoot of The First Day for the older kids is the Dorm Room Decoration Day. Our children cannot go to college without an obligatory photo shoot of parents working diligently to turn their kid’s small room into something akin to the Taj Mahal. The budget for these makeovers appears to be roughly the same as Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding in the Eighties. It’s like a global competition to make the rooms as ornate as possible, with matching bed spreads, pillows, lamps and wall accessories. I’m not exaggerating– Ben and Erin from Home Town would be jealous of these efforts. Understand, these rooms will never, ever look this way again and are nowhere near an accurate representation of college life. But it’s a silent challenge– who can win Decoration Day?? The real kicker? Parents throw untold bucks at these extreme dorm makeovers only to find their child start planning their way to future off-campus housing as soon as those proud parents snap the obligatory Dorm Room Decoration Day picture. I guess we’ve got another holiday coming down the pike– College House Decoration Day??

You know what would be some fun? Let’s post pictures of a child’s 114th day of school when the kids barely arrive on time, half of their morning Pop Tart is smudged on their uniform shirt, and their khakis look like they’ve been wadded up in the back of Mom’s minivan. That’s probably a better representation of school. Or you grab a shot of that dorm room on a Friday in November after a long Thursday night of college engagement. All of those beautiful throw pillows are literally thrown all over the floor and that smiling student is probably wishing there weren’t so many cute mirrors in her room. It would be awesome.

I would write more but I have to go now- it’s Walker’s First Day. I need to get a picture before he leaves for school.

  • Originally published in The Bolivar Bullet on August 11, 2021.