Managing First Day of School Tears

Worried about tears on the first day of school? Start this ritual tonight

manage-those-tearsOne year ago this week, I was sending my daughter off to her first day of school and her first day at a new daycare. Let me tell you there were tears. Tears from her. Tears from me. She missed her old daycare and while she was excited about school, it was all so new. The first days were rough, but things got worse when I received a call from the teacher telling me, in the nicest way, that Charlotte was having a hard time coping because she didn’t know any of the kids. She said in time it would get better, but she wanted me to know what was happening. And that’s when I lost it. I hung up the phone and began to bawl. Luckily, I work at a parenting magazine, so crying at the office in front of coworkers didn’t seem that inappropriate even if it was. And I am fortunate enough to work with a fabulously supportive group who understood that my daughter’s tears, well, make me cry.

That night, Charlotte brought home a gift from the teacher—it was a piece of construction paper on which was pasted a cut out of Charlotte’s hand with a heart sticker in the middle. Underneath was line from the book “The Kissing Hand” which is about small raccoon who would rather stay home with his mom than go to school. The mom kisses her youngster’s palm, so whenever he feels lonely, she tells him to press his hand to his cheek so “that very kiss will jump to your face and fill you with warm, toasty thoughts.”

We began our kissing hand ritual the very next day. I would kiss Charlotte’s hand, and in turn, she would kiss mine so if either of us felt sad, we’d have a kiss from the other. Not long after, Charlotte began to make friends at school and at the daycare, much to the relief of both of us.

My dear girl starts Senior Kindergarten this week. She is excited about her new teacher and was thrilled to be moving up to the big kids’ room at daycare. But our morning ritual remains unchanged—when I drop her off, we do the kissing hand. I’m sure at some point she will tell me she doesn’t want to do it anymore, especially in front of her friends, but until then, I love the little ritual that had such a big impact on our lives.

—Robin, Former Senior Editor, Canadian Family Magazine

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