Childhood Family

Back to school

Well, this was certainly a different start to the school year.

Fifteen years ago, my wife and I took our daughter to her first day of 3K. I don’t remember what she wore that day, but I can guarantee you it was not overalls, as her mom was there. If you see any school pictures of my daughter in overalls, you can pretty much bet that her mom was not in charge that morning. I, on the other hand, had overalls as the go-to because (a) she looked really cute in them and (b) I’m not really great at coordinating cute outfits for tiny girl humans.

A few years later, her brother started 3K. Fifty-fifty chance on overalls on that day.

For the next 12 years, the two of them started school on the same day. We would always do the requisite first day of school picture, as is required by federal law. (Side note: To anyone who gets grouchy about people posting first-day pictures on Facebook, you should really just take that day off from social media. To me, first day pics are kinda the best part about social media. You get to see your friends and family and their kids growing up, and you get to see who’s wearing overalls and thus had dad in charge of first day outfits.)

That run has ended, however, as we dropped our daughter off at college this year. So a few thoughts on this year’s first day(s):

  • Move-in went surprisingly smooth. We loaded up two cars with Allie’s stuff and headed off to the University of South Carolina. When we arrived, we were instructed to park and unload all of her stuff on the curb. We were told we had 30 minutes to get stuff into the dorm, which was about three blocks away. Yeah, not happening.
  • It only took us about three trips, but we finally got everything into her room. Maybe an hour. Fortunately, those in charge of monitoring the unloading were understanding.
  • On the second day of her being there, she attended the Beyonce/Jay-Z concert, which students got for a mere $25. Before you think that’s an amazing deal, please remember the tuition cost required to be eligible for said deal.
  • My daughter’s first day of class was on Thursday at 4:30. It was weird not being there for her first day, but I did not allow myself to get too sentimental. After all, this was what we worked for over the last 18 years. This was the best possible outcome of our parenting. I did send her a text that read, “Don’t mess this up. We’ve invested too much in you to be a family shame.” Ha! I kid A little bad parenting humor. I texted, “Go with the overalls.”
  • While adjusting to our daughter not being at home has been weird, we have noticed that she had one particular utilitarian trait that we hadn’t truly appreciated: She got the mail, every single day. When it finally occurred to my wife four days after dropping her off, we had a mailbox stuffed with mail. Note to selves: The mail fetcher is gone.
  • Our son’s start to school was uneventful, fortunately. He is a high school sophomore, so preparing him for school is a relatively easy exercise. “You need anything for school?” “Nah.” “Clothes?” “Nah.” “Supplies?” “Nah.” “Nothing?” “Pop-Tarts, maybe?” Pop-Tarts it is.
  • His first day of school picture was a quick shot of him in the passenger seat in front of school, giving the look that only a 15-year-old can give, one that says, “Make it quick, Dad, before my friends see this.”

So I guess this is the new norm, and it will all change up again in a couple of years when our son heads off to college. But that’s life. It’s what we’ve worked for. It’s what we’ve been aiming for the whole time. No reason to wallow in self-pity because kids are moving on. I simply won’t do that. Now it you’ll excuse me, I think I want to go put on some overalls.

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken, S.C. A graduate of the University of Alabama, he now lives in Mt. Pleasant. You can e-mail him at or follow him on Twitter @StandardMike or at


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