Challenger School

Back to School


I am writing this blog on the eve of the first day of school. By the time you read this, this first day will have come and gone.

I am looking forward to tomorrow and am wondering when my son is too old to have me walk him into the building. It seems so harsh to just drop him off and drive away. I want to make sure he makes it to class. I want to make sure his teacher sees him. I want to make sure he knows that I care about him.

I am especially missing my mom this time of year. My mom was such an integral part of my schooling. I wish she were here to see Jadden’s first day in the fifth grade. I don’t remember if she walked me to class on the first day. But my mom was ever-present during my schooling. She made sure I had a first day outfit and new shoes. She made sure I walked into my class on the first day with a new backpack and new school supplies. These are some of the ways I am keeping my mom alive during this back to school season.

I told my son that I was going to enter the building with him and embarrass him— give him hugs and kisses in front of all his friends. He has warned me against this.

I’m just joking with him though. I do think it’s interesting, when kids enter a period of being embarrassed of and by their parents. At times, I was embarrassed by my parents. My mom used to brag about me to anyone who would listen. This embarrassed me. What I wouldn’t give to be embarrassed by her one more time.

I wonder when my son will stop holding my hand in the store. I tried to hold his hand on the way in to Back to School Night last week. He shunned me. He initially took my hand, and then all of a sudden dropped it as if the self-conscious bug had bitten him.

I wonder when this feeling will overtake him completely.

I have told Jadden that I’m going to walk in to school with him tomorrow. On the first day. After that, I can drop him off and he can monitor his own arrival in class. But the first day still belongs to me. The joyous feeling of being the proud dad who snaps first-day pictures and sees their child off, looking like a bright and shiny new penny, is still something I am holding tight to.

Being a parent and losing my mom has made me all the more mindful about the special moments that come and go so quickly. I keep being reminded to enjoy this while I can—that soon Jadden will be a teenager and then all bets are off.

Whenever this is, I’m not going to worry about it now. If I worried about it now, I might project this on to Jadden and let him go all alone in to the building tomorrow.

I might watch him disappear into front doors and just imagine the look on his face as he is greeted by his new teacher on his first day of fifth grade. I might convince myself that this is what he wants—to be totally independent and make his way on his own.

I’m not going to worry about the Jadden of tomorrow. It will come when it comes and might bite me in the butt. In the meantime, though, I’m going to stay focused on the here and now and enjoy every minute of walking my son to class on his first day.

About author

Dr. Jim Martin

Dr. Jim Martin

Jim Martin is a principal in the Salt Lake City School District and foster dad to two boys. He is graduate of Westminster College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education. He then went on to get a Masters degree in Teaching and Learning and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy. Jim has taught kindergarten, first, fourth, and fifth grades. This is his tenth year as a public school administrator. In his spare time, Jim loves theatre and has acted in over 30 productions. He is the artistic director of a local theatre company.

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