Archived Story

It was the first day of school all over again

Published 9:40am Thursday, March 22, 2012

Column: Thanks for Listening

I stood in the kindergarten line for my daughter Tayler Rae’s first day of school. I looked around, and all I could see were 5-year-olds clinging to the hands of their mommies and daddies. Nervousness filled the air, as all of the children were about to break the bonds of home-based amusement time and enter school for the first time.

I thought to myself that this moment was the last pure instant of my daughter’s life before the societal cliques, impolite grins and judgmental attitudes would turn her from my pure diminutive cherub into a cynic who doubts Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

The first day was great as you can walk right into the classroom with your child. Tayler gave me a kiss, and away I went to work.

The next day I stood again holding her hand. Each day she would ask me to stay and walk her in. Each day I did. The fourth day I noticed that I was the only parent still walking their child into the classroom. The teacher looked at me a bit funny and then mentioned that starting next week, all the kids will just line up outside and then walk in by themselves, with a strong emphasis on the word themselves.

Was I being an overanxious parent who just would not let go? Should I just lay down the law and be stern and say: Man, er, kid up, little buckaroo?

Every day that Tayler looked up at me and said, “Daddy, please stay” with just a gentle squeeze placed on my hand was another day that I just could not say no. I was her hero, her dad and Superman all wrapped into one. I did not care that other parents did not stay. I only cared that my little girl wanted me to be with her. If Tayler was not confident, then I was not confident.

A couple of weeks later — fine, a month — Tayler finally had overcome any fears and would have me just drop her off and she would run, wave bye to me and get in the kindergarten line.

I think back to those couple of weeks when holding my hand gave her all the strength she needed and wish that is all you would need in life.

Last week we visited the college that Tayler plans to attend. It is in Orlando, Fla. It is a music-production school, and so we both flew down for the grand tour.

So, if you are paying attention, we jumped forward 12 years, and here we are, again standing in line and nervously waiting to see what this school has to offer.

I know this time will be different. Tayler has grown up. She is a confident young lady who knows what she wants. She will get it, too, because in what seems like a blink of an eye, this brilliant child of mine has transformed into, well, whatever she desires. And as a parent, isn’t that what you really hope for?

I love you, Tayler.

— Daddy


‘Daddy’s Little Girl’

Here is a song I sang to Tayler when she was a baby and, still, on occasion sing to her:

You’re the end of the rainbow, my pot of gold.

You’re daddy’s little girl, to have and hold.

A precious gem that’s what you are;

You’re daddy’s bright and shining star.

You’re the spirit of Christmas, the star on our tree.

You’re the Easter Bunny to Mommy and me.

You’re sugar, you’re spice, and you’re everything nice

And You’re Daddy’s Little Girl.


Tribune Publisher Scott Schmeltzer’s column appears every Thursday.