The First Day of School for Our Military Family: Why This Year Will Be Different

Posted August 30, 2010 by

Last year, my husband and I were in Iraq and we missed our oldest starting Kindergarten. We made a big deal out of it when we started her down here in our new town midway through the school year, but it wasn’t the same. We lucked out and had a phenomenal kindergarten teacher who worked with us through some of our oldest’s struggles. Things like starting a new school. Meeting new people. And completely regressing on reading, writing and everything.

I went into panic mode last year. I bought books thinking she had a hard time learning. I called my mom, trying to figure out why my oldest who’d loved school in Maine now hated it. And I cried. A lot.

Slowly, she started coming around. We worked with her teacher who was especially sensitive to my daughter’s needs and we ended the year with flying colors. She was reading, writing and making new friends.

So this year, as I prepare to send my daughter into the same school, I was disappointed to find out that she wouldn’t be in the same class as her friends from last year. No real reason, I was told. I left a note for the principal, wanting to have her moved over. Didn’t think it was going to happen but I figured, what’s the worst that could happen? They could say “no.”

Then we walked down the hall, noticing friendly faces, seeing friends she knew. The halls were familiar. Everything about this year was a continuation, not a new start, even though she was moving up to first grade. For a military kid, that’s something special. So I wanted to hang onto the idea that she would get to stay with some of her friends and have that connection for as long as possible.

Then we met her teacher and I was instantly at ease. Her teacher smiled and got down on my oldest’s level and the more I talked with her, the better I felt. I pulled back the note from the office. I decided that it was more important that she have a good connection with a good teacher. I hope it’s not a mistake, thinking that she’ll make new friends. I worry about my daughters’ lives as we continue to work through being a military family. Most of the kids I started Kindergarten with, I graduated high school with. My daughters more than likely won’t have that luxury, but I hope that I can teach them the value of good friends rather than lots of friends.

I know I worry a lot about how my life is impacting them. We’ve already had some renewed challenges with their daddy going to the field this week. My oldest cried and cried and cried. And all I did was hold her because I knew the feeling. There’s a daddy-sized hole in her heart and she doesn’t know how to make it stop hurting.

But this year, I’m going to be here with her when he deploys. I’ll be here for the tears and the fights and the screaming meltdowns. But I’ll also be here for the phone calls, for the smiles and the achievements in school. This year is going to be hard, I have no doubt, but I’m certain that my kiddo will get through it.
It’s what I have to tell myself at night to get to sleep.

About

Jessica Scott is an active duty army officer, one half of a dual military couple and full-time mom. She squeezes out time to write late at night or on her lunch breaks, such as they are. She blogged her way through Iraq in 2009 and you can read about her journey at Jessicascott.net. She is the mother of Mia(3) and Victoria(5) and is blessed to have good kids who've struggled through a rough time as military kids.

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