School starts tomorrow. We’re pretty late out of the gate in the PNW. Another Summer has really slipped through our fingers this year with little to show for the months on hiatus. I can’t tell if that’s a good or bad thing? I guess it depends on if the “nothings” were enjoyable or not. Probably a little of both, which is fine. But it’s difficult as a parent to strike a balance at this time of year between the crushing pain of losing our daily play dates and lax schedules and unadulterated joy from having the kids freaking go and get entertained by someone else for a while!
It’s a pretty cliche´ set of emotions that crop up during these new stages of life. The ones like, “they grow up so fast” and “enjoy it while it lasts because it will be over before you know it!” The trouble with expressions like these are that while you’re in the thick of it, time can feel excruciatingly slow. Like, why haven’t you moved out & got a job yet? slow, or how am I still wiping your ass for you? slow. But then you realise the actual current ages of your children instead of the one you’re imagining & try to cut them some slack. Then the pendulum swings to the other side! Suddenly you’re swatting away visions of moving them in to college dorm rooms or they’re off getting married, when in actual fact, they’re just starting third grade.
We probably project a lot of our own schooling experiences on to our kids which may falsely steer them in directions resembling very little to what they’re actually dealing with, because they are, in fact, not us. For the previously bullied kids inside us, these parents might helicopter, overly instruct their child with an attack plan, or are constantly wary of all the other kids’ intentions towards their offspring. There’s the parents who thought school was a blast because they were smart, popular or funny; these parents might not understand why their kid isn’t experiencing the same level of enjoyment in their academic careers. Whatever it is, letting go of our little humans is a tough ask sometimes. They’re still in training, and this is part of the curriculum whether we like it or not.
I had plenty of variety when it came to school experiences. Between Kindergarten and graduation, they would ebb & flow between smart, bullied, class clown, smart mouth, loud & fun, sarcastic & in trouble, mainstream popularity, niche group experimentation, academia, sports, the arts. I was a veritable cornucopia of personalities. My interests, strengths, weaknesses & levels of acceptance among my peers could change daily. I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s meant to be? There was never a moment where I was settled long enough to claim one cohesive brand of experience. But life doesn’t work like that. Kids don’t work like that! These are little people on a path of discovering who on Earth they’ll be some day. And even when school’s done, they’ll still be evolving and growing long after they’re released from our daily care, because that’s just human nature.
I bet these kids are way more capable at asserting themselves in life than we give them credit for. It’s my job as their parent to give them guidelines for what our family believes to be good, well-rounded & successful humans, and to create a home that is safe & full of love … and sometimes yelling. Outside of that, I need to step away from the dual steering wheels we’ve been using to navigate their personal vessels and let them start the process of learning through trial & error. They will undoubtedly crash & bash along, that’s how learning goes. The older they get, the more I need to move aside & coach instead of holding their hands in place for them. Of course there will be plenty of back-seat-driving and sitting in the passenger seat (for as long as permitted) while I violently jam my foot down on the phantom brake when they inevitably do something stupid. That’s my right as their parent. It’s also my right as their parent to poke fun at them a little when they have self righteous tirades, or to find some clever way to teach them a lesson (hopefully while also maybe traumatising them a little), or simply to throw buckets of water over them when they refuse to wake up for school (which will also help diffuse the cloud of axe body spray I’ve been warned will fog up their room.)
In any case, as I prepare the lunch boxes, check the back-to-school supply list for the 20th time, make sure the child-approved outfit is not in the dirty laundry pile, I’ll also try to enjoy the process that will some day be long gone. It’s definitely quite a task most days, especially the 7:50am start time! But, I’m ready to put on my Big Mom Jeans tomorrow & head in to a new year of learning, growth & battles with lice outbreaks. I’m prepared to deal with all the ways I’m unprepared for this. I’m gonna “Mom so hard” this year! (apparently that’s a thing now)