Parents, grab your Puffs. If the mere thought of junior tromping off to kindergarten has your L’Oreal migrating chin-bound, a first day of school "boo hoo party" may be your cup of Joe.
That time-honored tradition getting misty-eyed over this major milestone is getting the group-therapy treatment: Some elementary schools welcome moms and dads to congregate in the cafeteria after the teary drop-off – and let the waterworks flow.
The motive, explains San Fran mom blogger Amy Graff over at BabyCenter.com, is "so parents can cry together and comfort one another as they mourn the reality that their children are growing up."
Constructive consolation – or worthless wallowing? Depends on who you ask.
Critics have decryed this "pack crying" practice, branding it anything from self-indulgent to pathetic to lame. Count blogger Jeanne Sager of The Stir, who outed the trend just as own daughter was starting kindergarten last year, among them.
"My friends and I joked that we should follow the bus to school on the first day … then set up in the parking lot with a bottle of wine," she quipped. "Whether it was to drown our sorrows or celebrate our freedom, we couldn’t quite decide."
But the soriees seem to hit the spot with other parents – and they’ll cry if they want to, thank you. "It was the best. thing. ever," a mom named Lisa replied in the feedback on Graff’s blog post. "We were relatively new to L.A. when my daughter started kindy, and it was fabulous to have this time to commiserate with other parents."
Some schools have gotten wise, too, using the opportunity to introduce parents to the PTA and ease them into volunteering. "They get you when you’re most vulnerable – a rather smart tactic," Graff says. The titles run clever and cute, from a "Tissue Tea" (urging parents to attend "whether you are boohooing or yahooing") to "BooHoo WooHoo Brunch" – which even serves champagne (at that one, "some parents cry and some dance," another mom explained). Sometimes, it’s simply dubbed a "welcome breakfast."
"It gets the super nervous and clingy parents out of our rooms on the first day," chimed-in a kindergarten teacher in the BabyCenter.com feedback.
It’s that sort of "helicopter" parent behavior that bugs moms like Sager in the first place.
"Thinking (my daughter) might find her parents sobbing in the cafeteria and start freaking is the last way I want her to start off a 13-year adventure," she says. (She clearly skipped the shebang.)
Still, that first day of school is an emotionally big one. And even the staunchest get a tad verklempt.
So would you stifle your sniffle solo – or RSVP?