The First Day of School

Words and photography by Pawel Slawski.

The photographs that you are looking at right now are illustrating probably the most exciting moment (after the birth of my sons) that I have photographed in my life. I felt intense emotions and fear the day before while we were going to sleep - waiting for the new days to come.

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Pawel Slawski schooling
Pawel Slawski wildling magazine
first day of school
getting ready for school
brothers pawel slawski

As parents we are full of empathy, we almost feel the same as our children. That evening I have had a stomach ache – probably the same as they.

That night before as I was watching them sleeping, I felt like something had ended in their/our lives. They weren’t aware yet that they were entering the so-called "system”. That made me feel even more upset. I was wondering whether the new Polish education reform (in Poland children start school at 6 now instead of 7 as it was before) is good. Stas was born on December 31, so he is exactly 5 years and 9 months old. Probably he will be the youngest in the class and sitting still for 45 minutes seems to be impossible for him. Kajtuś in a week’s time was going to be 3. He is a preemie (smaller than most 3-year olds). He is strongly emotionally dependent on us - often needs a hug or a kiss. It is still too early for nursery I thought!

pawel slawski first day of school
first day of school wildling magazine
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first day of school

I rejected those thoughts and quietly closed the door of their room. I took out the camera; got the lenses cleaned and the batteries charged. I took the first picture (black-and-white photo of the white shirt prepared for the next day). I decided to documentthis important for day. The key was to remember that I have two roles: a photographer but mainly the parent giving support to his children. I set the alarm at 6 am... 

Beautiful September sun woke us up and... butterflies in my stomach.  We left the house, starting something new in our lives. The boys were brave, curious about all the new things around them. Very attentive. Photographing all of these moments was really difficult, that makes me feel even more satisfied with the pics you are looking at now. Showing the emotion was the most important to me. I hope I succeeded but I leave the judgment to you.

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school pupil pawel slawski
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It's been three weeks since the photos were made. Stasio loves school every day and wants to stay longer after the classes. Homework is a great pleasure for him, he is a “pupil" and you can see how he is proud of it. 

For Kajtuś it is hard to be away from home and it's difficult for us too. Leaving him crying is heartbreaking. Probably in a week or two it will pass and everything will be fine.

How about the "system"? Now our role is to teach them how to live in it without being in conflict with themselves. Everything will be fine I am sure :)

first day of kindergarten
brothers go to school Pawel Slawski