With schools back in session all over the country, social media is filled with pictures posted with the caption, “First Day of School.” I love seeing the smiling faces showing excitement for beginning a new grade level. Sophomore year or second grade, each a big step forward. I imagine the whole outfit was carefully selected head to toe, especially with a pair of new shoes. My children always started out with new shoes and new backpacks. They could never wait for the back to school clothes we shopped for, so on their first day their outfits had been previously worn and washed. I tried to take a picture at our front door or at the bus stop every year on the first day. But I have to admit, some years it was a picture taken on the 2nd morning of the start of the year. Getting four kids out the door was no easy task. Each one of those pictures is a treasure which mark the milestone.
I especially love when people post a “then and now” pair of pictures. Starting kindergarten next to starting senior year of high school hits my heart the hardest. Sweet little grinning missing teeth boys and girls holding giant rainbow backpacks next to broad jawed with stubble and curvy adult-like kids. You can look right into their eyes and see the 17 year old in the 5 year old. The backpack has shrunken in the pictures, and the expressions on the faces show a bit less excitement. Perhaps these older kids are loathing the workload and the early mornings. Or maybe it is that they too are realizing how fast time is moving.
I scrolled back through my pictures of the early days with Summer and Koda. Now obviously dogs grow much fast that humans. But I was hit with the same pang in my heart when I looked at their 8 week old puppy pictures next to their 17 week old pictures. I see Summer’s pointy nose as a young pup, and how it has changed with age but remains very different than Koda’s broad face. They are both so tall and curly haired now. Their eyes are also the same as when they were younger, it’s just hard to see them with the full tuft of hair on their heads. They both used to fit onto a little soft oval shaped dog bed. Now, one barely fits. Summer and Koda have changed in these few months just as these children in their school pictures have changed year to year.
As someone who likes reflecting in writing, I love seeing the posted younger versions of my friends’ children. But I cannot help but feel sad about how fast time goes by. I keep pictures of my little guys up around the house just to remind me of those cute toothless smiles of yesterday. Koda and Summer’s early puppy pics are already framed and hung (thanks to my oldest son for my birthday gift). Pictures, stories, and memories can comfort us when we move forward into uncharted territory.