After a too-long summer that was really too short, the kids return to school today, August 21. It is our 13th year of first days of school, counting preschool, and while we have at least 7 more to go, I am struck by how quickly the years are flying by. How quickly the children are growing up.
It is the thirteenth year of new outfits, backpacks with cute new supplies, and lunch boxes packed the night before in preparation for the new day. There are a few things that have changed: We now have to coordinate carpools to accommodate varying schedules. The kids will all have band and orchestra instruments to add to what they need to carry from day to day, practices to manage, test preps and other sessions for the older two. Life has indeed gotten more busy, and more expensive.
But in all this growing up, there are some things that haven’t changed. From a special back-to-school dinner the evening before to one last trip over the weekend, every year we try to savor those last few moments of summer- even as we’re more than eager to send the kids back to school. One tradition we’ve kept for 11 school years now is a bedtime reading of Audrey Penn’s The Kissing Hand the night before the first day of school. This sweet story tells of Chester Racoon and his mother as he starts his first day of school. To ease first day jitters, his mother passes along her tradition of a kiss on the hand. We’ve been reading this story since Jacob started kindergarten in 2007 and have been reading it on the eve of the first day of the new school year ever since, including last night. And while the kids, especially the high schoolers, might be getting too old to appreciate the story, I do believe that they will appreciate the tradition, especially when they’re older and Lord-willing, passing traditions of their own to their children.
So here’s to a wonderful school year. To those parents doing this for the very first time, it does get easier, though no less wistful, with each passing year. And to all, my best wishes as you encourage your child in their struggles and celebrate their successes. Cheers!
Education is an adventure meant to be shared.