My first experience as a parent taking a child to kindergarten is one I will never forget! As a single dad with daughters, I felt the pressure of having my daughter look perfect for the first day of school. That is how it goes, right? Or at least, that's the myth I bought in to.
Taking my oldest daughter to kindergarten (solo) was an emotionally heightened day for me. Single or not, taking the firstborn to school on the first day of school and LEAVING them feels like total abandonment. What if they need us and are unable to reach us? Or, what if they experience something new (good or bad) for the first time without us there to video the moment? Perish the thought! So MUCH could happen and it feels like we've completely lost control of our child. Funny how taking our children to college for the first time feels much the same.
But, my story gets even better. As I've already mentioned, the myth that haunted me all summer leading up to the first day of kindergarten was the need for my child to look perfect. I was a single dad and I feared that my child would look like the daughter of a single dad. I could just hear all the other moms, not to mention the school's faculty, whispering behind my child's back. "She's the little girl from that single dad." I was determined that not only would my child not look like "that little girl from a single dad", but my child would look like she came straight out of the salon. I think that's called overcompensating.
With that goal in mind, on the eve of the first day of school I did something totally foreign to me. I went to the store and bought sponge rollers. Remember those? I only knew of them from TV commercials, but it seemed easy enough that even I could figure it out. So, as bath time was over and bedtime approached I took out the rollers and commenced to rolling her hair 5 strands at a time. She had long, thick hair so this took a while. When I finished, the poor child could barely hold her head up.
Next came the big question: how long do you leave sponge rollers in? Reflecting on my own childhood it seemed to me my mother wore rollers to bed in order to have a bouffant hairdo the next morning - so that's what we did. Despite the tears of discomfort, the sponge rollers remained for about 11 hours. Yes, you read that right: 11 hours. After all, she had to be perfect for the first day of school. Surely, the longer they were in her hair the better she would look.
Morning came and I was not prepared with the next step of the process. After taking the rollers out, I was overwhelmed with just how effective they were. Her hair was bigger than her body. No amount of combing or brushing would settle her hair down. It was huge. We were both in tears. I had absolutely ruined her first day of school. How could she face the other kids? My goal of perfection was replaced by a fear she would be mocked by the other children, and it was my fault. To make matters worse, in my effort to tame the wild beast on her head I heated up the curling iron thinking that would settle things down. In the process I accidentally touched the side of her head with the curling iron leaving a big red mark that remained all day. Way to go Dad!
Lesson learned? The first day of school is far more about relaxing and enjoying this monumental occasion with your child than it is about making sure everything is perfect. I seriously wish I could have a do-over of that first day. I know we would have laughed more and cried less. Since then, however, we have laughed a good bit about that day which has served as a simple illustration to me of Romans 8:28. "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him".