Thursday, September 06, 2007

In my big sister's footsteps


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London, Ontario, September 2007 [Click to enlarge]


Taking the kids back to school this year was a bittersweet experience. Sweet because they so very much wanted to be there, because they were thrilled to see their friends after a long summer apart, because they felt at home in a schoolyard that's been welcoming kids since long before their grandparents were born. Bitter because I remember them being a lot smaller when we made this walk last September, because I still find it difficult when they walk away and I turn for home, alone, because I don't know how many more moments like this I'll have before they no longer want me to be there with them.

Our eldest son wanted to fly solo on his first day back. As much as it pains me to admit it, he's already beginning to grab hold of his life, gradually taking over the reins from me and my wife, taking those first few halting steps of real independence into a world that's less certain than the controlled one he's lived thus far.

But the two younger munchkins still wanted Daddy to tag along for their first day back. I brought the long lens and quietly observed them take their first few steps back into a world that's always been welcoming and warm to them. I listened to the banter as they happily greeted their friends and shared stories about the summer that they had, the summer that's now over. Then I watched our son follow our daughter into the school.

They're at an age where she's the natural leader and he's the natural follower. He trusts her implicitly, and she loves him limitlessly. It's a symbiosis that makes me unbelievably proud of who they're becoming, and it clouds my vision with tears as I try to compose the shot. I'm far away from them as they move into their new school year; getting further with each step. But with my long lens, the least I can do is grab the memory of the moment and hope that I can hold onto it - onto them - for just a little bit longer.

Your turn: Transitions. Please discuss.

41 comments:

Diane said...

What a lovely expression of a father's love for his children . . . and a great photo too.

Awareness said...

Beautiful....

I had the honour of driving my daughter and three of her friends to high school on their very first day. It too was bittersweet, especially when I was struck by how quickly time evolves. One of my daughter's friends in the car was in her kindergarten class. They've been inseparable since then. We laughed about how shy the two of them were way back then and I commented on how proud I was of all of them for finding their confidence and smiles.....for looking forward to this new adventure.
They chatted away in the back of the van.....expressing some trepidations, wondering who would be in their classes....and if they would get lost trying to circumnavigate their new surroundings. Then, before i knew it, we were at the drop off spot. Out they went, floating up into the crowd of teenagers and blending right in.

My last feeling? A sense of calm as I realized that these 4 beauties were exactly where they needed to be.....they were ready for a new flight.

daisy said...

I was lucky in that my daughter never minded that I wanted to tag along on her first day of school and take pictures (even up to and occasionally at college - not the first day but the moving day). Of course, she was an only child and that might have made all the difference. It was nice tho to always be able to be around for that 1st day. We'd always get ice cream when I picked her up from school on that day as I was always able to take the day off and have this ritual.

This year...it's her last year of school (hopefully)...it's her first year of school as a married girl...and her husband took her for ice cream...I was a bit sad.

surcie said...

You're a terrific dad. This is evidence.

Joy T. said...

So beautiful. Two of my children are in high school and one is out on her own and I'm here to tell you it does get a 'bit' easier. A tiny bit. I feel sometimes transition is harder on the parents then it is our children. THEY seem fine. Us? Not so much.

Beverly said...

Carmi, I love it best when you write about your children.

Shannon said...

What a beautiful sentiment. I'm grateful that my 6 year old son still hugs me every morning when we walk into his classroom because I know that it will not last.

Rod said...

Your post has robbed me of my usual eloquence--or pomposity, depending on your perspective. It has reduced me to tears.

You've got your Dad mojo going, sir.

The world desperately needs more like you...

Write From Karen said...

Well said, as usual, Carmi. I can so relate to this entry, especially "Bitter because I remember them being a lot smaller when we made this walk last September, because I still find it difficult when they walk away and I turn for home, alone ..."

I cry every year. Not because they are leaving me, but because we are on the threshold of another growth spurt, both physically and emotionally, and they are one step closer to no longer needing to me for guidance.

Just wait until high school, my friend. Our oldest will be a young man in just four short years. The thought both terrifies me and thrills me. I pray we've done our job, and done it well.

Marion said...

You, quite simply, managed to move me to tears...what a tribute to your children this post is...and to you, as well.

What a terrific father you are. Go with the flow, Carmi, you will change along with your kids.

photowannabe said...

I too love when you talk about family and your being a proud Dad. happy healthy kids are the result.
My kids are long gone from the house and those "Firsts" but now we are into the grandkids and their "Firsts". Its a joy and i never tire of it.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

*sigh*

Yeah, I hear you...

Sandy said...

That photo and those mental images of siblings adoring and supporting - that's what I look forward to. My two are still relatively young at 5 and just about 3. I see the bond they're developing already and I pray that we'll have school mornings like the one you've captured. Thanks Carmi.

moon said...

As a parent I can totally relate to your feelings as they start a new yr , each yr noticing the changes they go through..as I remember the first day my daughter got on the bus for her first day away from me for kindergarden...like it was yesterday..the new transition for me this yr is ...NO SChool!...She gradutated highschool last June..this Sept is very weird for me as I didn't have all that school prep to do ..She is hoping to start CJEP (college) in Jan but for now its just been very odd for me...She has a job for now..and has a few things to do to make sure she is able to attend cjep..these things she will have to do for herself...I can't do them for her...Ahhhh the bigger they are the bigger the decisions and responsabilies..
I loved that photo of the kids Carmi...reminds me of my child over the yrs at this time of yr.

CG said...

I am so sad at this time of year because another summer is over and next year the girls will be bigger...I read both your post and the moving comments with tears in my eyes but at least I know I'm not alone feeling this mix of awe, pride and sadness as my children grow up.

The Turmanators said...

So powerful for me to read about your kids. I joke often about the frustrations of parenting the Short People, but I do love them "to the moon and back again" as we say to each other. Watching my oldest take off for her first day of kindergarten was so exhilirating, surreal, depressing...

But they still NEED me. I mean, REALLY need me. And while it drives me crazy, you remind me to appreciate that.

What a marvelous example you are of what a male ought to be!

MissMeliss said...

Oh, what a sweet picture, and how great your kids always seem. It makes me wish I had one.

Really.

Chatty said...

Now THAT is a terrific photograph. Those are the kind that I frame.

As a HS teacher, I still see kids doing this and it's a neat thing to watch!

Beckie said...

I feel your pain...

Michele sent me.

Scarlet said...

For the first time, my husband is the one driving the kids to school since his new job is closer to their schools. I miss last year when both of my kids were in the same school. They walked together, like your two in the photo, with my little boy trailing just a step behind. Where was my camera then?

GetFlix said...

That's the toughest fact. They grow-up on you.

Great photo!!

Mike Davis said...

I hope they manage to retain that enthusiasm for school! My daughter just started 10th grade and I've rarely seen her so excited. Of course, the social scene is probably the bigger draw, but a positive attitude is a positive attitude, no matter how you slice it.

We're now in the midst of a whole new phase of growing up and it's equally frightening but I'm hopeful we've provided her with enough of the tools to make it through relatively unscathed.

I like to think that even as she moves further into her own life as an individual, she knows we're still behind her, should she stumble.

Rainbow dreams said...

Thats beautiful Carmi, we're at a transition this year from junior school to senior school...
Each year I feel similar pangs as they grow up and are more independent, making their way..as I want them too, more confident than previously and more aware...

not sure I'll ever get the letting go bit though - I think tears are all part of being a parent, lovely photo, Katie

BreadBox said...

I do hope that he always trusts her so, and that she always gives him good reason to do so! That's a lovely sweet image, one that I occasionally see reflected in Boo taking care of Skibo -- they are much younger, of course, and I think a little closer in age -- it always makes me shiver with joy to see it:-)

Michele sent me today. Of course, it being a weekend. I only visit by myself on non-weekends!

How goes linux, by the way?

N.

gautami tripathy said...

That post is very beautiful. I know it sounds corny.

On the other end, when I stand there watching parents leaving their kids at the school gate lingering, I know their fear and their anxiety for their loved one. As a teacher I try my best to assuage that.

After 12 years of schooling when students pass out and venture for further education or to face the world, it is mixed feelings for the teachers too. We are elated as well as worried.

Somethings can never change and remain the same all over the world.

Michele knows the exact moment when I would like to be here. No wonders she sends me then.

Moi said...

beautiful photo and a lovely post, Carmi

wordnerd said...

Overnight, it seems, my children went from being, well, children, to the people they are now. And I am experiencing the same emotions you describe in this wonderful post. Thanks for committing those emotions to the written word, Carmi. As always, you know just how to say it. Oh, and what an absolutely beautiful shot.

Thumper said...

Mine was always more independent than I might have liked. I think first grade was the last time he wanted me there for that first day...since we lived close enough for him to walk to school almost everywhere we lived, I didn't get to see many of those First Days as he approached the school.

The one time I think he wanted me to go with him was the one time he didn't have the nerve to ask: his first day of college. He was 17, terrified (I think) but he didn't want to show it. We made up for it a year later by him being there for MY first day at that school :)

Michele sent to be contemplative the rest of the day, as I ponder the reality that he turns 25 next April =sob=

Tawcan said...

Awesome post I love it. The pic made it so much better.

Oh Michele sent me.

Moogie said...

Oh Lord love a duck Carmi. You've gone and made me cry. It's so hard, yet thrilling at the same time to watch them become "themselves." Ah, they grow so fast. Thank you for putting into words what I can only keep in my mind.

panthergirl said...

Yes... it's bittersweet indeed. I always loved the first day of school, and I'm so happy to see my son's excitement about it as well.

It's the bullies we can do without. Ugh.

Love that photo, btw.

Here via michele!

Jonathon Morgan said...

With all the back to school talk, I'd actually been getting nervous about my daughter's first day (and we're at least a year out from that), but this post made me feel a little better.

jac said...

being childless, i can't really relate to the transitions that you are witnessing before you. the perspective you've shared is certainly poignant.
i'm going through my own brand of transition as an adult. it is certainly interesting - the irony of transition, being exciting and scary at the same time. the feeling is similar if not the same for both the person going through the transition (kids) and the person who is observing the transition (parents). you've captured that shared experience so well in your photographs and your words. thank you for sharing!

texasblu said...

Change can be difficult - esp. when we are so resistant to it. I have been working on myself to change my thinking to welcome change. Yes, WORKING on it, as I have yet to perfect the art. ;)

Wonderful post Carmi. Very warm. :)

Joe said...

Great post! I felt the same when my boy went back to school this year. I got a kid in school, one who will start school next year, and one who is a couple of years away from school.

Today is my middle kid's birthday. I looked at him and was proud that he is growing up. Yet, I felt a little sad...because he is growing up. Time goes by so quick!

Paul said...

I'm gonna promise you one thing, Carmi. Time flies. So cherish these moments.

Here from Michele's. Thanks for you kind comments at my place this evening.

Paul said...

Oh, that's a great photo, by the way.

Awareness said...

Hi Carmi.

Michele sent me this evening to see you again. It's always a treat.

when my son started kindergarten, his big sister was there to help him along......it always made me feel better knowing the two of them were under the same roof keeping an eye on each other.

Now, my son is BMOC in Grade 5 at his elementary school. He doesn't have a little brother or sister, but he has a reading buddy in kindergarten whom he keeps an eye on and shows him the ropes.

kenju said...

I did just that for many years with my children, Carmi, and it is a bittersweet experience, every time.

Now I am in the midst of another transition (with mr. kenju). I could cry about it, but I choose to remember fondly the past and embrace the future, whatever it may hold.

Michele says hello!

Reflekshins said...

great post
very heartwarming
good saturday morning stuff

looking for
his first touchdown . . .
outstretched wings

hmmm, i see a haiga here
gonna do it

Rita said...

your story brought tears to my eyes for several reasons.

First, your story is so warm and heartfelt. Next, I know so few fathers that have or take the time to be the one to accompany their children to school. You are a rare jewel and I hope your children know and respect that. Then, I'm reminded of the days when my child was young and still needed me and looked at to me as her hero. Finally, It breaks my heart that somewhere along the way all that changed.