Today was the first day of school in our town. For the past three weeks, I have been mentally preparing myself and to a lesser extent, my kids for the transition from summer to school. We purchased schoo…l supplies, went on vacation, shopped for back-to-school clothes, and practiced bike routes for the new school bike-rider/walker in our house. By yesterday, all of our back-to-school preparations were complete, and we had a day to relax and spend time with friends. Over the past few weeks, I have casually mentioned school to each of my kids as the subject popped into my mind. But my comments were ones like:
I wonder what your new teacher will be like?
I wonder if any of your friends will be in your class?
I wonder what cool kinds of things you will learn this year?
I wonder what the playground at your new school will be like?
Last night at bedtime, I spent a few minutes with each of my three kids talking about the beginning of this school year and all of the cool things I envisioned for each of them. They were all, to varying degrees, excited about today and what it signifies in their lives. As I sat down after they were all in bed, I thought about how many parents and kids feel nervous on the eve of the first day of school. It is very common and normal for kids to be nervous about starting a new school year. For the most part, my kids never have been, and I wondered why. I thought back to my own first days of school. Being a child who loved school, the night before was always filled with happy excitement and anticipation; very rarely did I ever feel nervous. The same was true for my husband. I wondered if we have managed over the years to pass our pleasant memories and energies about back-to-school onto our kids. As I sat there last night, I genuinely felt 95% happy and excited. I know my children are growing up. A part of me feels a tinge of sadness, but mostly I know that this growing up process in an inevitable (and at times messy, but also wildly beautiful) part of life. Being a bereaved parent, I also know that the opposite (not growing up) is definitely not the option I want. And what a pleasure it is that I get to watch my children growing into healthy, well-adjusted, kind, generous people. It is the greatest blessing of my life. I thought (for a very brief minute) about negative things this school year could bring (problems with teachers, difficult subjects in school, bullying, etc.). While I was not trying to deny their possible existence, I also consciously chose not to pay much attention to those sorts of worries. I simply assured myself that if any of those issues arose, we would handle them appropriately at the time, but now was not the time for me to concern myself with things that may never occur. Last night, I found myself filled with joyful anticipation of all the amazing ways my kids will grow and change and mature this year.
This morning, all five of us got up with plenty of time to have a nice breakfast together, go outside and take the required first day of school photos, give kisses and hugs, and send them all off on their new adventures. And as I dive into my own work that has been put on hold for most of the summer, I will wait excitedly to greet them this afternoon and hear all about their first days.