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Port: My last first day of school

There are so many difficult things about being a parent, but one of the most confounding and painful is that, if you do it right, you raise children who don't need you anymore.

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Rob Port
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MINOT, N.D. — In November, I'll mark my 21st year as a father.

This week, I'll take the youngest of my children to his first day of kindergarten, which will be the last time I take one of my children to school for the first time.

I'll admit to having a hard time with this.

It should feel good.

It should feel like a beginning. My son has spent the earliest years of his life learning from his family. It's time for him to start the profoundly necessary process of learning from other people.

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Still, it feels like the beginning of an end to my relevance in his life.

The first day of school has always been bittersweet for me.

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There is excitement. The kids get new clothes and new supplies and prepare to meet new people. There is also trepidation about meeting those new people and a tinge of resentment over leaving the relative indolence of the summer months behind.
It's fashionable for parents to celebrate the return to school and, hey, I get it. Children can drive you crazy when they're home all the time, but when mine are at school, I miss them.

There are so many difficult things about being a parent, but one of the most confounding and painful is that, if you do it right, you raise children who don't need you anymore.

Hopefully, they should still want you around, but the goal (are you listening, helicopter parents?) is independence, and that process begins with the first day of school.

Cooper is prepared for his first day of kindergarten. He has a new haircut and a new jacket. A new backpack full of supplies, even though he already has four other backpacks, which could have sufficed.

He's excited, too, mostly, though he's also asking me questions like, "Will everyone like me, daddy?"

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How do you answer that honestly?

No, not everyone will like my little man. It's an unfortunate reality of the world, and the only thing he can really do about it is try to like everyone else anyway.

On the whole, though, completely normal and rational social anxieties aside, I think he's ready to do great things in kindergarten, though my bar for achievement is low.

What parent doesn't dream of their kids ascending new peaks of fortune and fame? It's fun to think about and always possible, but this dad will feel satisfied if the kids can find work that makes them happy, someone to share that happiness with, and a level of success that leaves them free of dependence.

This week I'll take my son to school for the first time. He'll probably cling to me a bit, but eventually, he'll find his place with the other nervous students and join his older siblings in their journey toward adulthood. I'll walk home to begin my workday, feeling simultaneously happy and sad at this new step toward my obsolescence as a parent.

To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com

Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at rport@forumcomm.com .

Related Topics: INFORUM BISMARCK
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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“Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.” Say thank you to those mentors who shaped who you are today.