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Parent blog: An Aurora dad's first-day anxiety

For the first time, Marques Ivey missed his children’s first day of school. But a little sibling rivalry worked wonders as his kids tallied up new friends made at their brand-new school.

For Quezdon, 11, Anda, 9, and Kaiyan, 6, Aug. 9 came a little too early. Normally the start of school is exciting for my three, but not this year. They were a little nervous and apprehensive because they would be starting at a brand-new school for the first time in their young school careers. All three communicated in their own way the challenge of a new school.

Their new school is a P-20 school, the first of its kind for Aurora. We as parents chose this school because our children can be in the same school from preschool all the way through to seniors in high school, and beyond. All this in the same school.

We weighed the pros and cons of moving them and open-enrolling them into a new school. But the benefits were unmistakable.

As with most children, the nervousness revolved around the concern of meeting new friends. And I cannot help but feel helpless for them as I try to explain that simply being themselves will net them “a ton of friends.” What’s really funny is that they meet friends so effortlessly when they are out and about, and this summer was no different.

For example, my youngest, Kaiyan, is very attracted to sports. Whenever we go to a park and he sees kids his age or older playing a game, he goes right over, introduces himself and immediately begins to participate in whatever game it is. Same can be said for my middle child, Anda. She is a girly-girl with such an easygoing smile, and bursting personality, that others are attracted to her immediately.

My oldest is a little different. Q is a little shy, which one would think limits him to attracting new friends, but I find it quite the opposite. He teeters the line of jock, like his younger brother, and slightly bursting personality like his sister. I personally did not see any challenges or fears to gaining new friends. And knowing them, there was a competition to be had! But I also understand that I am the outsider looking in and I know that school in 2012 is different than it was in 19– for me.

My fear as their father is that they will not meet new friends and will come home crying and not want to go back. But as I explained to all three, this is their opportunity to make an impression on their peers and their teachers. Their opportunity to create new friendships and new bonds could potentially last a few decades.

I left for Washington, D.C., on Aug. 8 for an educational summit. This was the first day of school that I have ever missed. I have been there every morning for the first day of school for the past seven years, and little do they know, it broke my heart. Sure, mom was there. But I discovered that when dad is present, that layer of security and reassuring, “You’ll be good, and if you need me, I’m there,” always stopped the tears and nervousness.

Not this year.

I had to speak with them though my screen and microphone on my iPad. And, although thankful for the iPad, words through a screen do not deliver the same reassurance as being there. So I waited all day to hear from them how their first day of school went. As I expected, the competitive side showed its head, and in this case, I found it to be a wonderful thing.

My first question through the screen: How many friends did you make Quezdon?

“I made 3 or 4”

What about you Anda?

“I met 5 new friends!”

What about you Kaiyan?

“I made 7 new friends!”

Then the argument ensued as to who actually made the most friends.

For me, as I sat there listening and watching through that screen, there was a sense of relief; but yet, there was no doubt that they would be successful.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

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