Putting Your Kids On the School Bus for the First Time is the Saddest Thing Ever
Editor’s Note: This article contains an update at the bottom that was written two years after the original. Make sure you read the entire thing, especially if you’re going through “the struggle” right now.
As many other parents did today, I loaded my boys onto the bus for their first official day of school. The task, which seems pretty ordinary, stirs some thoughts, emotions and, more than anything, memories… all of which basically destroyed me emotionally.
Today, I said goodbye to my two little boys. I have said goodbye to them before, but this time it was much different. It was different because, when they come back, they’ll be big kids who know what it is to go to school. As they stepped aboard that big yellow hunk of metal, glass and rubber for the first time, I realized that this is the day I’ve dreaded since the first time I saw their faces — the day I had to start letting go and start sharing them with the rest of the world.
The first thing I started thinking about was all of the moments, no matter how seemingly insignificant they were at the time, that brought us to this moment. Like these:
I thought about all of those moments (and all the ones in-between) in just a few seconds, and then about how they all seemed to go by as quickly as I remembered them. Then I started to think about how much bigger their world would be after today. How there would be another place besides our home, as well as their Grandparents’ and Aunt’s homes, that they are familiar with. How there would be all sorts of new people in their lives, people that aren’t me whose company they may enjoy more.
I also realized this was just the first of many goodbyes that we would have that — assuming that the Alzheimer’s doesn’t get me — I would remember for as long as I live. There would also be the first time they go off to camp (or something of the like), when they go off to college or wherever life will take them after high school, every time they leave after visiting on holidays… the list goes on forever.
Thinking forward about all those times — that, hopefully, get easier to deal with than this one — also make me think about my Dad. How little we talk now, and how, when we do, we have virtually nothing in common to talk about. He loves hunting, watching baseball and… well, I’m not sure what else. Truth is — I can’t stand any of that s—. The same is true for him — he doesn’t really care about music (my main passion and half of what I do) and I don’t think he’s ever been on the internet, nor does he have any real concept of what it is (the other half of what I do). That makes me worry that me and my sons will someday be so different from each other that it will be a chore for them to have conversations with me… and that will totally suck. Somewhere, ‘Cats in the Cradle’ is playing.
That is a really long-winded rundown of all of the things that went through my head in just a handful of seconds. I’m sure this is what every parent goes through on days like today. I guess this is what it is to be a parent — to love someone so much that something as simple as putting them on a big yellow hunk of metal, glass and rubber can completely destroy you for the rest of the day.
UPDATE: 2 YEARS LATER
So my kids just got on the bus for the first time this year and let me tell you — it was so much easier than it was that first year. Occasionally, I’ll look at how big they’re getting and get bummed out about how fast it’s all going by, but that’s life, man. You gotta learn to let go of the things you have no control over, like time. Otherwise you’ll just be bummed out all the time and that’s no way to live.
I figured I should log this update to let all of those heartbroken parents that just put their kids on the bus for the first time that it does get easier. I didn’t even get bummed out this year. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Below are a couple pretty accurate representations of how the wife and I react once the kids are on the bus.