ready for school

space shuttle launchTomorrow is the first day of school. Over these last weeks of summer we’ve been getting ready for the transition, making lists, cleaning out closets, shopping, organizing the house, getting up a little earlier than the looser days of August required. This process is always such a deep and reflective one for me, marking time passing and the children growing, a process that brings into focus our family’s goals and priorities, a time filled with excitement, anxiety, and hope.

I find myself behaving a little like someone at NASA, trying to optimize for success and safety in the details along the way: the lunch and lunchbox plan that will increase the likelihood of nourishment in the hours away; organizing supplies and spaces to minimize distraction at home; paying more-than-I-had-planned-to for shoes that may well be the piece of armor that will let my child walk into something new with a boost of confidence. Every action seems somehow consequential, a systematic effort of stacking the cards.

Internally it’s about settling and bracing my own spirit to be ready for change as the kids take flight into something new. I try to be solid and centered and still, a mooring for all the chaotic wind that will blow through the next month or so before we all hit a rhythm. Because of course there will be turbulence, and it’s always good to have someone paying attention who’s rested and fed and ready to nonchalantly take the helm when we hit the bumps.

Something to keep in mind, too, as the school year begins: there are very few kids who feel 100% ready to be in the next grade. The kindergarteners worry about how well the first graders could read. The sixth graders marvel at how the seventh graders knew what to wear. The juniors can’t quite yet figure out how the seniors knew what they had to know to get themselves to college. I think this fear is a little shadow that keeps the end of summer from burning too brightly for so many kids. It’s a good thing to remember when a child seems to overreact or feel quickly overwhelmed—often little bumps attach themselves unwittingly to this buried and larger fear. A case, then, to be gentle and patient. To be that reassuring anchor. To listen without judgement, offer ideas, and help them find their own way. It’s how we all rise to the next level, and grow into the next grade.

And it’s T minus-10. 9. 8. 7. 6. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1… –t

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