As children arrive at local elementary schools on the first day of classes, moms and dads with cameras in hand and occasional tears in their eyes escort their kids to the front door. With a kiss, a …
As children arrive at local elementary schools on the first day of classes, moms and dads with cameras in hand and occasional tears in their eyes escort their kids to the front door. With a kiss, a hug and a dozen “I love yous,” summer is over.
It’s probably tougher on the parents than the kids — at least at this point in their lives. One by one, children rush through the hugs, knowing excitement waits inside.
For some it’s all new; others can’t wait to reunite with friends. But for parents, it’s a significant moment. Sending your child off into the world — with hopes and dreams crammed into colorful backpacks featuring Baby Yoda or Hello Kitty — is difficult.
I remember walking to Louisa May Alcott Elementary School from our large bungalow just a few blocks away. I sang to the class on the first day, “On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese. I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed.”
I remember getting bit by a bunny and being told repeatedly to take my seat. I loved school for the most part, at least until I was old enough to know there was a big, beautiful world outside of football and track practice, math and English classes, and the many long hours I spent in the principal’s office.
What I can’t seem to remember is my mom kissing and hugging me before school. She frequently showed affection for her five kids. Our family has always been a bunch of hugging fools.
I’m sure I squirmed away, not realizing how important it would be for me in the years to come.
I was embarrassed by public displays of affection when I was a little guy. Kids can be stupid that way.
I’d give almost anything for just one more hug from my mom now. She died in 2015.
Kids are different these days. They have better tools for learning. In the ’60s we had three channels of black and white television and no air conditioning in my school. We didn’t even have calculators yet, let alone dreams of the internet.
We did have these cool pens that had four different colors of ink in the same cartridge. And in the ’70s we saw our first computers, although with less than a megabyte of RAM and a tiny hard drive. One photo from my new Nikon would take hours to render at that speed and overwhelm the hard drive space.
A short half-century later, a watch can have more power than early computers and a $5 thumb drive can hold millions of times more information. Who could have imagined a cellphone back then? Well sure, Gene Roddenberry.
The rest of us might have thought it would be nice to live in 2266 and have a tricorder as we tuned in Star Trek. Until then, we figured, we’d just have to endure party lines.
Two things haven’t changed: Teachers and school staff still dedicate their lives to the education of students and parents are still going to embarrass their kids in front of their friends with all that hugging and kissing on the first day of classes.
I doubt many kids read my column, let alone would take advice from an old fat man. But if I could get one message through it would be, soak in the hugs. Just like a formal education, you’ll wake up one day and find a hole in your life with few options other than relying on your memories to get you through the day.
Growing up isn’t near as easy or fun as you daydreamed it would be while you were supposed to be learning about gerunds. I still can’t tell you what they are and how to use them.
Learning is important — it’s right up there with hugging your parents.