First day of School

Make text smaller Make text larger

Out of My Mind

By Debbie Carini

Seven years ago, I wrote what I thought was my last column about the first day of school — it was my son’s last first: the first day of his senior year of high school.

In that column, I reminisced about all the first days of school – captured forever in photo albums, random cell phones, and the “cloud” (wherever that is!). There are crisp clothes, uncomfortable new shoes, an unstained and fresh-smelling lunch box, and the myriad hair styles, gap-tooth grins and height disparities between two children born two years apart.

My son graduated from college in 2016, and served two, year-long gigs in AmeriCorps, a program of the United States federal government.

He greatly enjoyed his work advocating for young teens in Tacoma, and Seattle. Then, he decided he wanted to continue his learning – to earn, first a master’s degree, and then a Ph.D. in American Studies, and he was accepted to school, all the way across the country.

It had the potential to be the ultimate, and longest, ride to the first-day-of-school ever!

As a parent, there’s always a certain amount of anxiety when sending one’s young charge off to school. Another adult is taking over for six hours a day: will he or she find your child’s ticks (cannot eat anything green, etc.) endearing?

On the most basic level – will my child eat the lunch I pack (or be able to thread the straw on the Capri Sun®)?

This ride to school was a little different — a 2,836-mile journey punctuated by stops at irresistibly named places like The Corn Crib in Shelby, Iowa.

I hate to think of myself as a coastal elite, but I’d actually never watched the National Tractor Pull Championship until I saw it on TV in our hotel room in Ohio.

We took turns driving. From the passenger seat, I looked over at my son and thought about the days when, from his car-seat, he littered the space around him with Cheerios™ and crumbled cookies.

On this trip, I made more of a mess with my car snacks – Cracker Jack® popcorn, and artificially-flavored strawberry and orange sodas; I even melted an entire tube of Rolo® candies when I left them in the car while we toured The Art Institute of Chicago.

Over the long miles, we listened to Tony Morrison read her book, Beloved.

At our final destination, I helped him set up his apartment; as the ultimate test of our mother-son bond (after five days of driving through 13 states, and consuming at least 20 pounds each of breakfast buffets) we put together an Ikea® bed and … we’re still talking to each other (especially about what to do with the single wooden slat and three screws we had left when we finished).

There’s nothing quite like the trepidation of watching a child embark on a new adventure, whether it’s to kindergarten or a master’s degree.

Please eat right, and stay warm, and learn new things you whisper to them as they turn and head toward their future.

And please know, I am always right here for you, ready with encouraging words, or even a bowl of mac and cheese.

I’ve had almost your entire lifetime to drive you crazy; thanks for letting me drive you this extra little bit.

Make text smaller Make text larger


Pool Rules


Township opening Bubbling Springs for free weekend due to heat, lake swimming ban
With a harmful algal bloom advisory and closed beaches on Greenwood lake as well as forecasted hot and humid conditions this weekend, Mayor Michele Dale announced that the lake at...
Read more »

Airbnb regulation debate continues
Proposed rules and regulations for residents who want to earn money by renting their homes to visitors for short periods continue to be a subject of debate in West Milford.
Read more »

'Life of Riley:' Viral video of bear chasing dog brings limelight to Hewitt
News trucks and reporters from throughout the region made for an uncommon sight on a quiet street in the Hewitt section of town last week after a neighborhood dog named Riley...
Read more »

State advises no Greenwood Lake water contact due to dangerous algal bloom
A potentially harmful algal bloom caused the state to effectively restrict activities on Greenwood Lake Tuesday after preliminary testing showed the presence of higher than...
Read more »


Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Community Newspapers


Local News
2019 municipal budget vote fails 2-3
  • Jul 11, 2019
Justin Inserra
  • Jul 12, 2019


West Milford, NJ