how i learned to not laugh at the moms who cry on their child’s first day of kindergarten

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Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

how i learned to not laugh at the moms who cry on their child’s first day of kindergarten

i’ve never had an addiction. well, at least the kind that necessitates an ‘anonymous’ group. you know, the kind where you get up and say, ‘hi, my name is ryan and i bite the heads off of my little ponies or i’m an alcoholic or i like to lick concrete.’ never been to one of those.

but it might be good to reveal, publicly, to readers of this blog one of my lifelong dark not-so-secrets.

i’m a crier.

no, i’m not talking about someone who shouts pronouncements in a public setting. i’m talking about that guy who cries at the part in ernest goes to camp where ernest sings gee i’m glad it’s raining. i’m talking about that guy who looks at childhood pictures and awkwardly gets a lump in his throat.

and i’m talking about that guy—that dad—who can no longer judge the moms (or parents in general, for that matter) who cry when they drop their child off for their first day of kindergarten (or preschool).

that’s what we’ll be doing next monday morning. lucy starts preschool. for all intents and purposes, it’s the same as the first day of kindergarten. we’re dropping her off at an institution that is not our home. while some downplay it as “just preschool”, it’s the first time lucy will be going somewhere day in and day out that is not our home.

and i truly have no idea how i’ll respond. maybe i’ll be indifferent. maybe i’ll cry. maybe i’ll do that thing where i try to think about something ridiculous to keep the lump in my throat down.

but, i’ll probably just cry.

i am a crier, you know.

you see, i’ve done the whole judge-the-parents-who-cry thing and it didn’t work out too well.

when lucy was just a couple weeks old, we took her in for her first shots. on the car ride over, i made fun of the parents who cry when their child gets shots. in the waiting room, i made fun of the parents who cry when their child gets shots. i even made fun of said parents to the nurse just moments before she actually gave the shots.

and then, as i held lucy in my lap, she gave the shots.

and something happened. something i will never ever forget.

as the needle went into her leg, just milliseconds before she exploded with tears, lucy looked up into my eyes, asking, without speaking, “why have you let someone do this to me, daddy?”

and. i. cried.

no, i’m not talking a little teary-eyed. i’m talking like the hoover dam gives way to the pressure of the water. i’m talking like the stuff that lifted up noah’s little boat and floated it for 40 days. torrential. downpour.

lucy in arms, i literally had to walk out of the clinic. 15 minutes later, the tears subsided and i could re-enter the rest of the rational and non-public-crying world.

so, i gave up the judge-the-crying-parents thing. i mean, i’m one of them now. and i’m ok with telling you.

which brings up back to next monday morning. you know, i might just walk in with lucy and become excited as she becomes excited (she’s all about going to school and doing funs things with new kids, which i’m excited about for her). i might be nervous for her. i might have some of my feelings of inadequacy and awkwardness from when i was in school come back.

and, i might cry.

and that’ll be ok.

because i am, after all, a crier.

we’ll put that confession to the test next monday morning. look for reports to follow.


  1. Alena says:

    I actually cried a little reading this post Ryan! I too am a crier when it comes to my kids. Every piece of joy or sorrow they experience, I am along for the ride. Olivia’s first day of preschool was tough, but her excitement eased the pain. Her last day of preschool was much harder. You don’t realize how much of yourself you put into the hands of a total stranger everyday. If you’re lucky, and I was, Lucy’s preschool teacher will become an extension of your own hand. Trust me when I say that there is nothing more valuable than a close relationship with your child’s first teacher. The last day she walks that hall and prepares to go to kindergarten, she’ll cry and so will you. You will be celebrating her acomplishments, but mourning the loss of time. It passes so quickly.

  2. Don’t worry. I’ll probably cry when Lucy goes to school, too. She’s growing up so fast! Make her stop!

  3. Diana Byrd says:

    Those were beautiful words. I had a ” moment” today as I picked out a dress that I thought Lucy would like to wear to school. That moment was a little fear in my heart but it quickly turned into a vision of Lucy walking into school in her new dress greeting her friends. Such exciting times….can’t wait to be a Grandma along for the ride!

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