‘Back to school,’ the most dreaded phrase in most kid’s vocabulary. If I think back to my own childhood it usually heralded the last precious weeks of summer freedom, late nights, no homework, every day a Saturday. Each year it seemed like the stores were hijacking summer earlier with their ‘back to school’ marketing campaigns, like they were sending a none too subtle reminder to kids everywhere that the fun times were nearing an end.
The endless trudge into shops for uniform fittings, school book buying and healthy lunch ideas began and the fun parent slowly morphed back into the responsible one by the time first week back came around the corner. Nowadays I reflect back nostalgically for those times.
Here I am now a parent myself and I still get the ‘back to school’ blues.
Family movie nights with home-made popcorn and hot chocolate are treats that attempt to balance the scales and offset the chore of uniform fittings in August. I’m not sure if I’m just trying to harness the innocence and exuberance of youth or relive my own childhood through my children.
I still remember the day I started school. My mother dressed me up and tied my hair in curls with a little red bow. She held back the tears till I got in the car but I could see her behind the curtain peering out, tears streaming down her face. My dad took me because she was too upset.
My grandmother marched into the classroom later in the morning and down to my desk to see how I was getting on (you could do that back in the nineties – though now that I think about it I was the only kid who had a visitor so maybe you couldn’t but no-one dared to stop her). My dad called in at lunch time.
For me ‘back to school’ announces another milestone of an all too speedy train hurtling from childhood to adolescence. I’ve now got a toddler heading into play school, a senior in primary school and a teen heading into junior cert year. Where did the time go?
I’ve recently started practicing mindfulness and instead of lamenting the passing of time and reminiscing I’m trying to live in the moment and appreciate all the wonderful things that are happening right now. Each milestone is shrouded in positivity sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper to find it.
For each of who has a ‘first’, be it a kid starting big school or secondary or the oldest making their way out into the big bad world or even the youngest leaving the nest, take comfort in the knowledge that we are not alone. Generations of parents before us went through the same thing and generations ahead of us will wonder how we coped.
Once we get passed the first week we always have Halloween and Christmas to look forward to. There I go again – so much for living in the moment…
Let’s make sure we enjoy each and every single milestone even if we do have a little cry at each stage. Some day we’ll look back and can say we gave this parenting lark our best shot and our kids turned out well-adjusted and happy. Yeah – sometimes it’s a bumpy road but sure what road isn’t without a few potholes we have to meander around. It makes the journey all the more interesting.