Chicago dad prepares for the first day of school

Today it starts. “The boy” starts kindergarten.

As expected on the eve of this momentous day, he was nervous, wife was a wreck and I was trying to hold it together with a mixture of scotch and stomach acid.

My practical mind tells me, “Relax, it’s Kindergarten. The kid skated through day care, through preschool and is fine. He is going to learn how to glue things together, make friends and sing a few songs, it’s not that big of a deal!”

My emotional mind has a differing view: “This is the end for him, he is now a part of ‘the system.’ In 13 short years, he will be “gone,” off to college, off to war, off to the NFL or Sorbonne or whatever the future holds for him! From this point out, he starts to path his own path.”

The reality is somewhere in the middle.

“The Boy.” He’s my gentle giant. Five years old and 4” 2′ tall, he looks like the Hulk and has a heart the size of Texas. He came into this world in pain, suffering, when an overanxious doctor snapped his arm and shattered the bone. His first 48 hours of life was filled with needles, surgery and a moment where it all “ended.”

Despite his size, he is the one I worry about the most and once he finally fell asleep, the fears came flooding in. The “what if’s” have taken over.

What if kids are mean? What if he doesn’t do well? What if the mean neighbors down the street mess with him, like they mess with us?” If there was a bubble, I would grab him and throw him into it!

As we know, that’s not how it works and it’s not fair. He is at the beginning of an amazing journey called “life.” If he is lucky, he will have huge successes and crushing defeats, he will laugh, cry, scream, shout and maybe even fight. He will have his heart filled and also broken, and if he is really lucky he will learn lessons from it all.

He may end up a Heisman Award Winner, an award-winning actor or the first man to walk on Mars. Only time will tell on that one. The important thing is that he is proud of himself, no matter what he does with his life, and that he knows he has a family who loves him and supports him (even if he decided to play for The Pistons.)

I tell all my kids, every single night as they go to sleep, “If you believe in yourself, you can do anything. You’ve already made the world a better place. Keep it up.”

When he finally settled down last night and put his head on his pillow, he looked at me with the same big blue eyes that he used to rely on me for everything, and said “Dad, I am really scared.”

I told him, “Me too buddy, but together we can do anything. Daddy is here for you, always have been and always will be.” With that he rolled over and went to sleep.

Let the adventure begin.

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