The start of the school year finds this fairly recent tradition of sharing pictures of children on their first day of school. I love seeing the happy faces as they head off to what they hope will be a year of excitement, learning, and growing. Those really organized parents who remember to do this every year will have a ready-made slide show for their child’s high school graduation ceremony. The parents who forget have another reason for parental guilt!
We don’t have a first day of school picture of Oliver to show. We did not look aghast at the list of 43 items teachers recommend their children come to school with. We did not have to find a new backpack that reflects his latest interest or wonder how he grew that many inches over the summer so that his pants look like knickers. We are not worried about whether his new teachers will be nice or if he’ll do his homework.
In fact, we never had a first day of school picture for Oliver because he never went through the K-12 system, even though he was almost 7 when he died. His schooling was in the hospital, which does provide a teacher to help the kids (and Oliver loved Miss Sarah). But school was not an option. As a 13-year-old, Oliver would likely be entering 8th grade, but we can’t be sure. We play a game of “what would Oliver be like” and there are always two versions: the Oliver that never had cancer and the Oliver who had cancer but survived. We play both games because those children would be different. No child survives cancer and walks on in life the same as before.
I certainly do not begrudge anyone their happiness on celebrating their children’s first school day of the year. In fact, I encourage you dive in and swim around in the happiness. Stretch it out and make it last as long as you can. There is plenty of unhappiness in the world so it is important to wrap your arms around joy wherever you find it.
And just so you don’t see this as a complete pity post, allow me to share a “first day” picture of Oliver’s niece and our granddaughter, Scout. Heading off to her first pre-K day in a stunning Wonder Woman shirt/frilly tutu that she picked out all by herself.
There is joy in this picture that I can wrap my arms around.