Why I Missed My Son’s First Day Of School… Ever

The school-year prep was the easy part for my son, who started JK this fall.

New solar-system water bottle for my budding scientist: check. Old BB-8 lunch bag: check. A special order from free2b for Sun Cups for lunches, aka non-peanut-butter-cups he won’t get kicked out of class for eating. Markers, coloured pencils, indoor shoes: check. A winter jacket bought at 40% off in August, in the front closet, ready and waiting for the weather to turn: check.

first day of school via Jakki Jones

Mom at his side, walking him to school on that very first day of junior kindergarten: not-check.

Yep, I missed my son’s very first day of school ever.  How’s that for mom guilt?

I count myself and my son very lucky: my husband was there, as were my parents and their poodle – and my daughter, of course, who’s just started Grade 3. In fact, my son was lucky enough to have a whole cheering squad. But I wasn’t part of that squad.

Why? Because I had to be in the classroom at 8:30 AM on that first day, to teach my own students on their first day of the semester.

I’m a college professor, which means my students are already adults. My early-morning class is a fourth-year class in the Bachelor’s program where I teach:  it’s these students’ final year of school before heading off into the big wide PR industry.

But here’s the thing: no matter how many first-days-of-school you experience, each one is special. Each first day of school is an opportunity to start fresh: to get more organized this semester, to tackle a subject or a concept that you’ve found difficult in the past, to get more confident speaking up in a group. To inspire, and be inspired by, a new group of people and a new learning experience… not just on the first day, but on every day.

So I missed my son’s first day of school. And I’d do it again. Because, as a professor and a parent, it’s my job to make sure that my students – and my son – have more than just a brilliant first day of school: it’s my job to make every day count.

Jessica Langer, PhD

Jessica Langer, PhD

Jessica Langer is a college professor and mom of two from Toronto. She blogs for Parent Life Network and at her own website, jessicalanger.com.