An Open Letter to the Parent at the Gate

Dear Parent at the Gate,

Each year, when school begins, I watch you.

I watch you as you nervously walk through our doors, holding your beloved child as tightly as they hold you, their cheek pressed against yours.

I watch you as you desperately and quickly attempt to judge whether the teacher you have been assigned is good enough for your baby boy.

I watch you as you scan your new classroom, seeking any tiny possibility that your baby girl could get hurt somehow.

I watch you as you hold back tears, walking back out the door, this time, empty handed.

I watch you as you struggle to let go of your baby, as much as they struggle to let go of you too.

I watch you… because I am you. 

The process of watching our babies move on in life is never easy.

It is not a simple task to physically let go of your child and walk away, trusting the most precious being in your life in the care of a complete stranger. But, we do. We do, because we have to.

It is not a simple task to emotionally let go of your child, trusting that no one will hurt them. But we do. We do, because we have to.

Leaving your child at school is the first step to letting them live their own life and it is one of the hardest things for a parent to do. But we do. Because we have to.

You may not think I see you, but I do. I do, but not because I have to.

I cannot promise many things. I cannot promise that it will be easy. I cannot promise what the process will look like. I cannot promise what your child will be like as they grow nor what personal experiences they will go through. I cannot promise that they will not cry or be sad or angry. I cannot promise that they will never get those childhood scratches on their knees requiring the help of a magic plaster.

However, what I can promise you is that this experience will one day be one that you will look back on with a smile in your heart. I can promise you that this experience is one that will impact your child’s life, leaving an ever lasting imprint of their character, their view of the world and their hearts. I can promise you that this initial step into life will be life changing. It will be messy, it will be fun, there will be laughter and there will be experiences like no other.

Your child will learn to live a part of their life without you. And this is exactly what I want.

I promise that they will become independent, self reliant, resilient, confident and one day, they will remember this time and chuckle. The memory of their tears as you walked away will not remain in their hearts, but in their heads. The memory of the laughter with their first friends, however, and the decisions they took independently, all alone, for the very first time, the very first art piece they created with all of the passion and creativity their little bodies could muster, the time they climbed the castle in the playground (and shouted at the tops of their lungs that they were the King!) … those are the memories that will remain in their hearts for a lifetime (as they will in ours).

So, Parent at the Gate, As I watch you walk away and wipe your tears, I will gently smile… because I know that this is just the beginning of an amazing journey.

And when you are gone, I will watch the beautifully curious little soul you left behind and I will smile, knowing that this truly is just the beginning of an amazing journey.