09/02/2014 05:41 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

5 Differences Between The First Day of Senior Kindergarten and Junior High

"Are you excited about the first day of school?" asked no child ever. This is a question reserved for grownups. There's a very short window in the life of a child for experiencing first-day-of-school excitement, and it's after they've already had a taste of it -- because can you really get excited before you know what all the "excitement" is about? -- and before school goes all Mr. Hyde on you. My 5-year-old is starting SK tomorrow, and he's a with it kind of guy. Enough to understand that the proper answer to the saccharine, "Are you EXCITED about the first day of school, buddy??" is an "mmmyeah?" while studying his own feet and wondering when would be the proper time to abandon this conversation in favor of something more exciting. Like gravel. Or worms.

So mmmyeah(?), he's positively not excited, which is about the only similarity I can think of between the first day of school 2014 and first day of school 2024 (I just threw up in my mouth a little bit). I played a little Find the Differences game with myself thinking of my 5-year-old son's upcoming SK experience vs. his future junior high, aftershave-happy 15-year-old self. I came up with five categories of differences.


1. Wardrobe Choices: Questionable? Peut être, but at least this year they'll be all mine.

2. Entourage: I'm showing up to school tomorrow and just try stopping me. Fast forward to 2024? Not so much.

3. Transparency: I'll admit it. It was not easy but I did (occasionally) get the JK inside scoop. I probably knew more about the imagination games my son played throughout the day than I did about his actual "classes." A slip of the tongue eventually revealed the existence of tidy up time and a song to go with it. I don't know nearly enough about the mystery that is simply referred to as "ORFF," or how my son get so good at exploring "different methods of movement through space such as skipping and galloping," as his report card states. I know that if I apply the same interrogation techniques (bribery), I can expect the same level of transparency during SK. As for Junior high? Yeah, right.

4. Socialization (and by that I mean mine, of course): Gotta hand it to him, he put up a good fight, but I knew them all by names and actions and, yeah, I sometimes got to hang out with them at drop off and pick up. Chloe was the one he was serious about. Maddie is the one he had flirtatious conversations about poop with. Emma talked about him to her mom, but never talked to him except for when nature called both their names at the same time. Julia was the one he butted heads with, but not literally. That would be me. In 10 years time the only socialization I expect will be with equally oblivious moms trying to figure out who our kids are dating.

5. Show and Tell: will mean something else entirely.

I look forward to the beginning of this experience today and to proving myself right or even wrong. Happy first day of school, kids, aren't you excited??