Photo By: Ian Britton
As Summer draws to a close, our senses notice familiarities of the season: the screeching of brakes from a school bus, the sight of longer traffic delays, the smell of new school supplies, the feel of starchy new clothes, and the taste of PB&J sandwiches. Such evocative things and yet so mundane.
This week marks the Back-to-School annual trek that new Kindergartners to High Schoolers are making in my area. To say that this march doesn't effect parents is a complete exercise in denial. Positively or negatively, I have noticed that parents seem to be impacted more by this ritual than their children are.
An example: As I have a 5-year-old, most of his peers are off to Kindergarten. This first day at "school school" has proven to take accomplished adult women and reduce them to heartsick girls. And I am not judging at all--I have a year before my son hits this milestone (the pluses and minuses of his September arrival) and dropping him off at pre-school today (the same place he has been now for 3 years) choked me up. Kindergarten is a marker of our babies throwing off that label and running to the one of "child" or "kid".
That's one end of the spectrum. Back-to-school can also be a celebration. The angst of cobbling together summer plans to keep at bay the beast of boredom has grown tiresome, so the scheduling of school is a welcome relief. The idea of getting back into the same routine is like music to a parent's ears. It's as if summer vacation is JUST long enough to realize what a gift normalcy is and the value of the "same old".
Some parents feel fear when school starts up again. Not only will their kids be measured by nameless teachers, but they might be too. Needing to be at your best for back-to-school night can be anxiety provoking for some. Or perhaps back-to-school is like a post-traumatic flashback to your own childhood and some painful memories that might have occurred. While we hope that our children don't suffer our same humiliations, at some point, there is little to prevent them from experiencing their own. (Hopefully, theirs leaves fewer scars).
Whatever you might be feeling as a parent as school begins once again, know that you are not alone. That any feeling is normal. And most importantly, they will pass. Now hurry up, or you'll miss the bus!