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Sandhya Acharya: First Day Picture

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On her son’s first day of middle school, Sandhya Acharya finds that it is a first day of school for her as well.

Every year, on the first day of school, we follow a tradition. At the entrance to my son’s school, by the tables past the ginkgo trees, we join a group of kids lined up patiently. One by one, they come up, pose into a frame announcing their grade, and smile for their first-day picture.

Not this year.

Because six years since that first day of elementary school, it’s time for my son to step through another set of doors. This time to middle school.

My son is a few feet taller, a few books wiser, and can speak more than a few sentences. I am no longer concerned if he will understand his phonics lesson for the day, eat his fruit, or have someone to go down the slide with.


Instead, I worry if he will find his way around campus for his different classes, and if will he have someone to eat his lunch with.

Once again, I contend with entrusting my child to a set of strangers. Once again, he will walk through doors into a place where I cannot stay. Once again, it’s time to say goodbye.

As we reach school we see a crowd of eager students and squirming parents by the gates. At the entrance, a big blue sign with blue balloons welcomes the kids. It’s the perfect frame for a picture, but there is no line of kids waiting to be photographed under it.

“No picture,” my son says. At 15 minutes to the bell the doors open and my son walks in. I watch his blue dinosaur bag disappear into the sea of students. He doesn’t turn back once.

As I hover around, unsure of what to do next, I spot a group of familiar faces – parents like me who have come to say goodbye to their first-time middle graders. We smile, we hug, we laugh and then under the big blue sign with blue balloons welcoming the students, we stand shoulder to shoulder and smile for our first-day picture.

With a Perspective, I’m Sandhya Acharya.

Sandhya Acharya is an author of children’s books.

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