Two of the most heartfelt moments of my life were when I walked my son and daughter to school on their first day.
Geoff is now 34, and Kaysi just turned 30, but I can remember those first days of school like they were yesterday.
If a parent is fortunate enough to be a part of this experience, there is no way he or she should miss it.
I'll never forget the look in Geoff's eyes that day as we neared the school. I could tell he was getting nervous, especially when he turned around and looked at his parents just before he opened the front door at Edison Elementary School back in Ashland, Ohio.
"Our little boy is growing up," his mom said to me.
I would have answered her, but I had a lump in my throat at the time.
"It'll be OK," she said to me.
To this day, I'm still not sure whether she had been showing her concern for Geoff -- or me.
Kaysi was a different story.
While Geoff was more reserved, almost hesitant on that first day, Kaysi was hammer-down let's rock. Bring it on, world. She more or less carried that same attitude with her into adolescence and then adulthood.
Kaysi actually got her mom and dad through her first day of school, rather than vice versa. Her first day came four years after Geoff's, and unfortunately by that time, her mom and dad had divorced. That meant the first day was a bit awkward, but thankfully both parents realized how important it would be for Kaysi for both of us to be involved.
We both walked our daughter to dear old Edison Elementary. Kaysi smiled at both of us the entire length of that first-day walk, a distance of about four or five blocks.
Looking back, it's kind of interesting how many things a parent can remember about their kids' "school years."
There were science projects, report cards (both good and bad), the day your son broke a finger in gym class, the first time your daughter stepped on a basketball court wearing a varsity uniform, the time your son got in trouble and you received a call from the assistant principal who (thankfully) was a good friend and let you know why there would be a detention. And of course, extra-special moments like your daughter's first date.
Yet nothing compares to that first day of school.
It seemed to represent the end of one era and the beginning of another. All of a sudden, there would now be others sharing in the ideas your kids formed and how they would look at the world. Your children would soon realize there was a big, bold world out there that included more than Mom and Dad and their neighborhood friends.
In one way, their first day of school was a rather sad point. A part of their innocence would be gone forever.
In another way, that first day of school represented a celebration. A tremendous sense of pride filled me as we walked toward Edison Elementary School. I was so proud of each of them. I was also proud to be one of their parents and hoped I had played some small role to get them where they were at on that day.
It was just the first day of school, and obviously there would be countless adventures awaiting them from that point on as their lives moved forward -- grade by grade, experience by experience. But all those special moments, all the accomplishments and all the tears that were to come in the years ahead all started on that first day of school.
Most schools in the Quincy area begin in the next few days. Parents who have a chance to make that first walk to school with their kids should make every effort to do so.
Trust me, almost 30 years later, you won't regret it.