A Lifetime of Firsts

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

Starting a new school year is sooo hard. It’s been fascinating to watch my kids go through the dynamics of relationship-building and relationship-changing and relationship-relating. And just, relationships. On the bus. In the classroom. On the playground. In the hallway. In the neighborhood. Out at the park.

Dang, relationships are hard, aren’t they? Just from the very beginning. They are just the stuff of life.

My kids are so different…. My son feels the BIG feels, and my daughter likes to keep her cards very close to her chest, playing too cool for school.   But they are watching and learning and growing with every relationship they take a spin across the dance floor with. We all do.

As a parent, it’s hard to know where to jump in and where to hold back. Where to offer support and where to toss in some “advice.” What to do, frankly.

But I’ve been thinking about how relationships are all about moments, and moments are how we make up our lives.

Do you remember your first crush? The first time someone was mean to you? The first time you felt left out? The first time you felt ‘cool’? The first time you defied someone in a position of authority? The first time you said a curse word? The first time you told a secret? The first time you felt like the only person in the universe? The first bad grade you got? The first time you were so proud of something you did/said/wore, only to be shot down by someone else’s look or words? The first time you thought for yourself, not based on the way you’d been raised? Your first “illicit” food or beverage, even if that was the snickers bar you weren’t allowed to have at your house? Do you remember your first car? The first time you went out with friends, without any parents present? Do you remember your first job, and the first time you had money “of your own” to spend? Do you remember crying over your first heartbreak, and the crazy thumping heartbeat over a new love? Do you remember having to own up to staying out past curfew or skipping school? Do you remember your first big fight? The first time you felt adored? The first time the applause was all for you? The first time it was your hands behind the wheel? The first time you couldn’t stop talking to someone? The first time you laughed so hard you cried? The first time you figured out how to blow a bubble, or to whistle? Do you remember when you first noticed a sunrise, or a sunset? The first time you heard the distant sound of the ice cream truck, or the first time you held a half-melted popsicle in your sticky hands? The first time you jumped into a swimming pool? The first time you read a book that left you completely lost in it for hours?

Ah, we have a lifetime filled with firsts, don’t we?

It’s one of the most beautiful bits about life, these firsts.

And at back to school time, in particular, I’m reminded of the power of these firsts.  As a parent, it’s my job to make sure I don’t interfere with those firsts (as much as I can help it), and that I’m there for them when they come. Whether I’m there with open arms when the heartbreak comes, or whether I’m there to share in a sticky, melty popsicle when it comes. Because sometimes being there for someone else’s firsts reminds you of your own… and the people that were there with you, and for you, then. Because in the end it’s the relationships that are built, and the connections that are made, from these moments, that last with us a lifetime.

What firsts can you support—or remember—today?

Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.