It’s back-to-school season, and if you’re a social media addict like most parents, you know that this means your feed will be filled with those ubiquitous first day of school photos. Let’s face it, there are days in September when it seems like the internet is filled with only "first day of kindergarten" photos and hilarious "thank god summer’s over" photos. And let’s not forget the mother of all back-to-school photos, the "first day of college" photo.
To say that I’m a cynic by nature would be an understatement. I’m not going to lie, when the internet used to be filled with nothing but cute cat photos and parents used to post nothing but everything their kid ever did photos, I didn’t want to hit "like." I wanted to hit "eye roll."
Not everything our kids do is dazzling. And not everything our kids do needs to be documented for all of the world and Instagram to see. I found parental oversharing a turn-off. And the parents who couldn’t seem to stop posting about their kids had me twitchy. It was all just too much “look at how cute my kids are.”
But, this year, something happened to me as most school-age kids, including my own two, went back to school. Again, my feed was filled with back-to-school cute kid photos. And to my surprise, I couldn’t get enough.
I found myself joyfully scrolling through photo after photo of various friends’ kids heading back to the grind, making sure to like each and every one. I found myself commenting with the occasional, “Adorbs,” or “Wow, first day of kinder. That’s big.”
I loved seeing photos of kids I hadn’t seen in person since their last back to school photo. Some of these kids I’d known since they were born. And here they were, off to kindergarten, starting middle school, a few off to college! Wow.
I’ve been there myself. I knew what her kids must have been feeling when they smiled, proudly, yet nervous. My kids have been there, too.
I surprised myself by spending entirely too much time devouring everyone’s photos. Seriously, it was getting embarrassing. I had work to do and my own children to pick up from their first day of school. I sat embarrassed, alone in my office, wondering if I’d lost my edge.
And then another photo came across my feed. It was of a friend's twins on their first day of kindergarten. The kids stood proud, anticipating this next step in their life—their brushed hair and new outfits perfectly in place. I had known these two since they were born. Their mom is a good friend. I knew what she must have been feeling when she took the photo. I’ve been there myself. I knew what her kids must have been feeling when they smiled, proudly, yet nervous. My kids have been there, too.
And I realized that’s why I love your back-to-school photos so much.
Because the world is filled with vitrol and we are living during a time when we all feel more separate than we do similar. And yet what we are, at heart, on this particular day during this particular time of year, is just a bunch of parents watching our children blossom and grow.
So if you, like me, find yourself totally enjoying seeing the world’s children head back to the classroom with their “It’s my first day of school” chalkboards and homemade signs in hand, you’re not alone. You haven’t lost your edge. Nor have your lost your mind.
We are, in moments like back-to-school season, all in it together. We’re all the same.
We are all just proud, anxious, stressed, happy, worried, excited, relieved parents hoping our proud, anxious, excited children have a good year.
And we just want the world to know it.