It’s that time of year again and I don’t know whether to cry or break out the pom, poms and cheer the kids are going back to school. Part of me wants to stay in the lazy days of summer with lemonade stands and dirty bare feet. The other part wants them out of the house before I turn batty from the sibling fighting, “I’m bored” comments and inhaling the contents of the pantry.
The count down begins in August.
The dentist cleaned their teeth, eyes are examined, hair is cut and required immunizations are done. We shop for new school clothes to fit bodies that grew inches over the summer. We buy shoes with tissue paper feet inside and boxes that will be used for various projects throughout the year. We purchase school supplies that seem to disappear off the shelves before the lists even make it to our mailbox. Parents do everything in our control and power to ensure children look physically ready to go. But what are we preparing for?
Sending them into the world of books and bullies.
Sending your child back to school is more than just dropping them off or putting them on the bus. It is sending them out to the world of bullies, teachers that may not like them or lunch counter ladies who dish out extra helpings of broccoli. Will they make a new friend? Will they have fun? Will they know the answer when called on? Will they be safe? Will they sit in the principal’s office?
I wish I could pack my wisdom in their lunch boxes. How the kid who hates you in fifth grade ends up being your best friend in junior high. Or tuck knowledge in their pocket to help answer the question they don’t know during reading time. I want to drape them in my thick skin to protect them from teasing. But I can’t.
What I can do is send them off in new clothes, shoes, hair combed and clean teeth to start a new school year. Maybe new school shoes will take up track, or a new backpack is filled with books inspiring a new passion. The sharpened pencils may encourage a love of writing. And maybe just maybe, that bully will teach them to deal with the forty year old bully in the office later in life. Lessons of all kinds are taught in school and it’s not just reading, writing and arithmetic.
Off they go to another school year, two inches taller and a few teeth heavier. Their brains emptied out over the summer and can fill up with new knowledge and experiences. It’s 180 school days ’til summer again and by then everything new will be old again, and so will they.