There is something in the air this time of year. I can feel the buzz. I see the occasional school bus rumble by with drivers new and old rehearsing their routes. The newspaper is stuffed with circulars with deals to be had on supplies, new clothes and shockingly new white sneakers. The shelves are stocked with lunch boxes and back packs. The days are still warm, but the nights are cool now and the crickets have come alive with their late summery songs.
Back to school means something different to everyone. Those without a vested interest might think of it as busier roads and a harder commute in the morning with those big yellow busses with their red flashing lights in the way or too crowded aisles at the local Staples.
For kids it marks the end of running around barefoot and dirty grass stained feet that leave footprints in the bath tub. The end of staying up late and sleeping in, of playing in the waves and digging the biggest hole on the beach. It marks the beginning of homework, soccer practices, football games, and figuring out new schedules, report cards and meeting new friends. The beginning of getting out of bed to the sound of an alarm and eating their Frosted Flakes with their eyes half-shut.
I am a parent AND a teacher.
The start of school holds so much promise for me but in different ways. As a parent I was never sad to see my boys start school. Maybe it's the teacher in me, but I've always known they were where they were supposed to be. They were adorable walking into kindergarten for the first time, lunch box in hand and L.L. Bean on their backs. I was full of questions. Would they succeed? Will someone hug them if they cry? Will they make friends? Will they ever have to visit the principal's office or sit in the "thinking chair"? Will their teacher love them as much as I do? There was really no way to know the answer to those questions as I sent them off for their first real experience without me, but time does tell and I'm happy to say I can answer "yes" to all those questions.
As they have grown older I don't worry so much of their school success because they have proven themselves as students, but the question now is what kind of people will they become?
I have come to realize that school doesn't just teach kids academics it helps teach them how to be people. How to get along with others on the playground, how to share, how to take responsibility for their actions, how to be part of a larger community and hopefully to become life-long learners.
Being a parent has made me a better teacher. I understand how those mommies and daddies feel dropping their children off for the first time. The building is bigger, there are more kids, and the expectations are higher. I try to greet those nervous parents with a reassuring smile, a comforting touch on the shoulder and even sometimes a hug and a tissue to wipe the tears. I want them to know that yes, I will hug their little boy when when he cries, and give a band-aid to her little girl when she scrapes her knee.
When the school year begins and I look at those scared little faces looking up at me from their spot in the circle I do my best not to let them see that I'm scared too. Will they like me? How will I possibly teach them all they need to know? How to walk in a line, pack up a back pack, write their names, when it's okay to tattle...to read!!! But every year I take their little hands and lead them wherever they let me, wherever they need to go and wherever OUR learning will take us. It's just what I do, but mostly what I do is love them as if they were my own, because for 9 months of the year that's exactly what they are.
Thank you to Starts with an X who gave me the idea for this blog post.