Today I Let Go – A Father’s Letter to His Son on the First Day of School

“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” ~Neil Postman, The Disappearance of Childhood

Every parent has that moment in life, the first moment you truly throw your most important, most vulnerable part of your life out into the world, and you hope they don’t get eaten alive. For me, today was that day. The first full day of KINDERGARTEN. The first full day my baby boy will spend with kids he doesn’t know, in an environment that is completely foreign to him, with a teacher he may not fully trust yet.

As we pulled into the drop-off line and waited for B’s turn to jump out, beginning his new adventure, we talked about what this year might bring. We talked about the Spanish-Immersion program he has been so excited to be a part of since the start of preschool last year. We talked about how he was shy at the open house but now that he knew some of the other children he was not going to be shy today. We talked about what was going to happen when we got to the front of the line – he’ll unbuckle, an adult will open his door, help him out, and point him in the right direction.

But when we got to the front of the line no one opened his door. B simply unbuckled, we said our customary “I love you,” he opened his own door, jumped from the car, and after I told him to “have a great day,” he closed the door with a smile and turned to blaze a new path into the great unknown. He didn’t wait for an adult to help, he just joined the other children making their way into the building, beginning his first year of school and subsequently ending our last year together.

As that door closed, I couldn’t tell if what I felt was my heart breaking or if it was my heart exploding from the love and pride I had for that little kid who was running off into an unfamiliar world. Either way, I couldn’t stop the tears from welling up. I couldn’t stop him from growing up, experiencing the world, and thus, leaving me and his mother behind. But one thing that will never change is the fact that that little blonde haired boy with the bluest eyes will forever be a combination of the best and worst parts of me.

That drop-off line was never going to be long enough for me to tell him all the things I wanted to tell him about school, about life, about anything and everything in this crazy world. So, B, here are some things I want you to remember as you go forth in your life.

  1. Believe in Yourself – You have an amazing thirst for knowledge. It will take you further than you will ever comprehend. The more you know, and the more you experience, the more prepared you will be for everything in this life. You are capable of great things as long as you believe that you can.
  2. Be Thankful – We have been lucky thus far in this life. We have more than we need and that is a reason to give thanks. Always be thankful for the things you have because all of it could be gone in an instant.
  3. Be Giving – Just as we have all that we need, there are others who do not. There are others who go without the basic necessities of life; food, clothing, shelter. Help those who are less fortunate. It doesn’t have to be a monetary contribution. Most times an ear to listen, a hand to hold can mean the most to others.
  4. Learn from Others – You will never know everything there is to know. Others will know more than you. When someone talks, listen. The information they will be giving you could help you later in life. Some of your greatest lessons and skills will come from people who have had less schooling than you. Test scores don’t mean jack once you are in the real world. Applying what you have learned will be your ultimate test.
  5. You Won’t be the Best, You Won’t be the Worst – Chances are there will always be someone better than you. Likewise, you probably are never going to be the worst at anything you might try. Always be gracious in both victory and defeat. Celebrate your accomplishments while still being humble. No one likes a sore loser, but more importantly no one can stand one who is continuously boastful. No matter what others say, winning is not the most important thing. Being kind and helping others succeed, or even recover from defeat is a true victory.
  6. Be Loving – Give your love freely. You have such a big heart, show it to others. Giving your love to another person – girlfriend/boyfriend, spouse, family, friends – will show your true character. Everyone is deserving of love and if we all gave more of ourselves – our mind, our body, our heart, our soul – this world wouldn’t be such a cold, dark place.
  7. Don’t Rely on the Love of Others – Always remember that the love of another person can be momentary. If by chance you are denied the love of another whether it be a significant other, family member, or a friend, know that the heart is resilient. It is not the end of the world. One day you will find someone who will make your happiness their primary concern. That is when you will have found love.
  8. Find a Woman or Man who Makes You Laugh – If you find a love who can make you laugh, and laughs with you, hold onto them, they are a keeper. The truth is, for all of us, our good looks will fade, but laughter will keep you young at heart, and laughter together will be the foundation of an everlasting love.
  9. Always Be You – You are smart, loving, funny, and you brighten the lives of those around you. The world can be a scary place but I know that you will go through it with a childlike wonder that will touch every heart.

Be Good. Do Good.

Te amo mi hijo.


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