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First Days of School

I made the silliest mistake. I thought my daughter was like me. In actuality, she is nowhere close. Here I was layering my first day of school worries and anxieties on her. I was up until 1 a.m. the night before her first day of school, and a workday for me, laying out the clothes she picked, wondering if she would notice if I switched the electric blue socks with the pink ones. I thought that would pull the tie-dyed skirt, purple and pink striped shirt, silver sneakers, and Princess headband together a little better. Was she going to exude her confidence, her creativity, and her independence with her mismatched wardrobe choice, or were we going to come across as the sore kooky colored thumbs. First impressions mean so much. I imagined all the other kids coming in classic shades, oozing in sophistication and taste.

I didn’t change her socks. While little "b" and little "d" are perpetually interchangable, she will remember what socks she picked out. If only that kind of memory game was on the gifted test. A colorful clashing happy clown is better than the sad crying kind that they save the pies for.

But she was smarter than me. She walked into her classroom like she owned it. Two girls had tutus on and a boy looked like he just rolled out of bed. In other words, she fit right in.

I'm not sure I dressed myself right for the first day. I set myself apart as the working mom as the few other moms there on time were weearing workout clothes. I'm not quite sure what statement "sportsbra" makes and one mom was indeed wearing one, with more tummy exposed than Dora.

My daughter wasn’t afraid or clingy. She walked right in, announced her presence, let her new teacher know that her friend Chloe was always late, and sat down at the crayon table. All through my life I was the nervous, quiet, clingy type. All through school, first day or not, I always felt socially awkward and behind. Not her. She is the kind of kid that wouldn't talk to me when I was young.

Bye mommy she said and off I went, leaving her to her friends new and old, and the painting easel. Confridence and independence have become her. It's hard to grasp that even though they come from us, they're not really us at all. I'm still trying to grasp that my body made a person of any shape, size or personality.

Then I got in my car and drove to my other life. I work at the University of Miami and it’s the beginning of school there too. I don’t have the imagination to picture myself the mom of a college kid making ironic references to Arthur. But only 13 more first days of school before we get there.