We are half way through August, and although we still have a few weeks left before school begins, I can't believe summer is almost over. A time of seemingly endless vacation, adventures, rest, and relaxation are soon to be replaced by alarm clocks, schedules, homework, practices, games, and obligations. Although we had a wonderful summer filled with family and friends, I am looking forward to fall.
But with the end of summer comes the beginning of something new. It brings new classrooms, new teachers, new friends, new responsibilities, new teams, new interests, and new opportunities. The start of school provides everyone with a clean slate, a chance to make changes, and a chance to be themselves. For some, the doors will open, big smiles will appear, and hugs will be exchanged as they run in to join their class and never look back. For others, the first few days, weeks, or months may be filled with anxiety, fears, belly aches, melt downs, and tears. Whether starting daycare, preschool, elementary school, high school, college, or a new job, transitions and change can be hard. The teachers they knew and loved from last year and greeted them with a jovial "GOOOOOD MORNINGGGG!" are no longer there to greet them. Their friend that sat in the next desk is now in a different class. The girl they played soccer with at recess moved to a different town. They hurt their knee over the summer and are unable to play volleyball this fall, and now no longer feel part of the team. They've changed majors this semester and feel behind, lost, and alone in the lecture hall. It's their first day on the job, and they are sitting alone at lunch.
Whatever the change may be, whether expected or unexpected, their reaction to this change is what is important. Life is not always how we want it to be. They may not love their teacher, get to sit with their friends at lunch, or may not make a team or club, but the same holds true in life. We may not love our boss, work with our friends, or even get the job we wanted. We have to teach our children how to cope appropriately to change, and connect with people outside of their comfort zone. We have to teach them how to look up, say "hello", and make conversation with new people. We have to teach them how to find the kid in the room who may be lost, who may be new, or who may need help, because someday that may be them.
We have to teach our children that it doesn't matter who has the newest IPhone, who's wearing the most expensive shoes, who has a bigger house and nicer car, or who went on better vacations. We have to stop placing such emphasis on empirical numbers, test scores, and grade letters, and start recognizing those who use manners, who help others, who are friendly and kind, who are hard working, patient, and honest. We have to stop categorizing kids into the "smart kids", the "cool kids", the "athletic kids", the "band kids", the "weird kids", the "good kids" and the "bad kids". Categorizing people into groups creates barriers between people and judgements to be made without every getting to know the person. You can be an athlete, and a musician. You can be a cool, weird, smart kid. Some of the most influential people in my life weren't in my "group" at all, but circumstances of change brought us together, and for that I am forever grateful.
So, "Let your child be the weird kid. Let them be the funny kid, the quiet kid, the smart kid, the athletic kid, the theater kid, the numbers kid, the teacher's pet, the chatter box, the valedictorian ,the middle of the pack, the "barely made it" kid. Just don't them them be the mean kid." -@mommywinetime
As we get ready for this school year, scramble to finish the summer reading, and find the right school supplies, remember what's important as they find their way, settle in, and establish their new normal. If you teach them nothing else, teach them to be kind.