First Daze

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

There are two types of parents -- those who are sentimental about the start of a new school year, and those who are less so. Even though I love the smell of new crayons as much as the next girl, I've always been firmly in the "How many days till they're gone?" camp.

Before I had kids, I was a kindergarten teacher. Each year, I got the biggest kick watching the parents arrive with their kids on the first day. They'd bring enough equipment to rival any paparazzi. After they had enough footage for a documentary, the parents would dab their eyes and talk about how fast their babies were growing while the kids and I secretly rolled our eyes.

I admit I wasn't completely immune to camera-itis. When my oldest went off to school, I took a picture of him standing by our front door, carrying his oversized backpack and new lunchbox. I planned on snapping a photo of Matt climbing onto the bus, too, but he let go of my hand and moved away quickly, anxious to begin his life as a "big kid."

I felt only the smallest of tugs on my heartstrings as I watched. I probably waved but I don't remember. I do remember watching Matt through the bus window, though. He was chattering away with a friend and completely ignoring me.

Then the bus pulled away. And just like that he was on his way.

I walked back home with Matt's younger brother and sister in tow. I was excited for my first born. His days were going to be filled with all kinds of adventures. There was no need for tissues.

Soon enough, my other two children went off to kindergarten. Sure, I took pictures of them as well. But even as my youngest climbed on board the big, yellow bus I felt more anticipation than anxiety. More happiness than sadness.

I just wasn't the overly sentimental type. And if I am being honest, I scoffed at those who were. After all, if we get it right, our kids are supposed to grow up and leave us.

But things are different this year.

My beautiful and brilliant Matt is a senior in high school. He will climb on that yellow bus for one last first day. I won't stand there taking pictures, but I'll be watching from the window. I will watch him moving away too quickly, anxious to begin his life as a young adult.

I know I will wonder where the days went. I will wonder how it's possible that I have an 18-year-old and if Matt will ever need me to hold his hand again. And I will wonder something else: Where did I put the tissues?

When Carmella Van Vleet isn't peeking out the window of her Lewis Center home, she's enjoying life with husband Jim, teaching her sons Matt, 17, and Sam, 15, how to drive, role-modeling her daughter Abbey, 13, with power-mom taekwondo, and getting her 15th children's book published. Visit Every month, we'll be looking for a Parent Perspective from our readers. Log on to to find out what the next issue's topic is and what kind of great prize we'll be offering the winner! (Hint for September: sports and COSI!)

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