I've known this day was coming for some time. I suppose all parents know that their kids are growing up and will eventually "leave the nest," but the backpacks seemed to illustrate this change in dramatic fashion for me. They made such an impression that I asked to take them out of her closet so I could take a picture of them.
The pack on the left was her kindergarten pack which she used it for several years. It is adorned with dragonflies, and I know we have a "first day" picture of her wearing it. In fact, we have thirteen "first day" pictures that include the first five backpacks in this collection. The pack on the right is new and has a spot for her laptop that she is taking to college. While I recognize each one in between the dragonflies and the laptop packs, I don't know that I recall when she switched packs and grew from kindergartener to college freshman. Where has the time gone?
There have been many milestones and memories along the way, of course. Concerts and conferences, skinned knees, books, fads, new friends and old friends, challenging projects and tests, losses and wins, late nights and early mornings, tears and fortunately, many more smiles.
My wife and I are blessed with two remarkable daughters, and we get asked quite often if we are going to be sad when they leave for college. Yes, I'll be sad. I will miss Jennifer not being part of the daily routine of our household, but I have no desire to go back in time to the other backpacks. I'm most eager to see what she will do with her new adventures in college and how she will transform herself into the young woman she has been practicing to be for her entire life. And although we will be five hours away from her, we will continue to help her as she takes those steps.
As we welcome kindergarten through 4th grade students to our school this year, I am excited about what we can help them to become rather than what they were. In other words, let's look towards the new backpacks rather than the old backpacks. The partnerships our school builds with our students, their families, and our community inspire me to be the best principal I can be, and I am fortunate to work with a staff who understands that our expectations for the future have a greater impact for our students than recollections of the past.
To the parents of our students, I offer two suggestions as we begin a new school year:
1.) Look forward more than backward.
2.) Expect your child to do great things.
Welcome to a new school year. The first day will be here very soon!
PS (If I may)--Jennifer, thank you for the "backpacks of memories." Do well and live your faith. We love you. I love you. Dad.