I can almost predict what room I will be sleeping in on Monday night…the eve of “Back to School Tuesday”. It has been like this for the past few years so I have come to expect and accept it.
I certainly won’t be sleeping in my own bed next to my wife. That space will most certainly be occupied by my younger daughter. There might be a chance that my older daughter might be in our room too. She might be sleeping on the floor next to my wife or might be crammed into the king sized bed along with her younger sister until at some point during the night, she will make her way back to her own bedroom and finish the rest of her blissful sleep in her own bed.
Its the “Back To School Musical Beds” game. The days leading up to the start of the new school year seem innocent and tame enough. We, as their parents, work very hard to get them back on a more normal bedtime hour and routine. We try to keep things on the down-low…staying close to home with only a few plans made, mostly with family and maybe some dates with their closest buddies to catch up.
Beyond that, we focus on giving them pep talks, preparing their knapsacks, assembling their binders, making sure their pencil case is filled with writing utensils and of course, that their lunches are packed and ready to go for Day One!
However, despite all our best efforts to keep the vibe in our house as calm and normal as possible, it seems to never fail that the witching hour on the eve of that first day of school always comes. Their little minds start to spin quickly as they run through scenarios of what the first day will be like.
For my older daughter who is now going into grade 10, its a social thing. Who is she going to see or want to see? Who is she going to walk to school with? How will she wear her hair? Will she do her mascara any differently? Will her new clothes be accepted by her peers?
My younger daughter will be all about the fashion. She will go over exactly what she will wear for that first day. She is truly an original when it comes to fashion and her fashion sense is amazing. She doesn’t follow the trends…she invents them. The thought of the work load ahead of her is probably the furthest thing from her thinking.
It is our job to remind them that we expect them to work hard, to focus on school and not be distracted by other things like friends or the antics of others.
My older daughter had a decent but just average report card as she completed her first year of high school. Grade 9 is a bitch..make no mistake. I understand this now more than ever having gone through it with her. It was socially challenging and she realized that she needed to take ownership of her studies; that no one was going to offer help..she had to go and get it. The pressure is on her a bit more this year because we made all of the accommodations in Grade 10 to make her life as easy as possible. Now she has to deliver on the goods!
Make no mistake; school is scary. Anxiety is a reality…even for the youngest of our children. We cannot, as parents, minimize or disregard their fears and stresses. All you need to do is think back (for some of us think waaaaay back!), to when we were in school and how we felt as the first day of school approached.
I freaked out. I hated it in every way. That burden of responsibility was overwhelming to me. I admit that I always blew that first day out of proportion. Teachers and Educators are smart enough to know that the first day is hard on everyone. Most are very understanding and ease into it. Some get right down to it, wasting no time handing out homework.
I must admit that as a parent, the first day of school is hard for me too. The party is over for us parents. We have to start with the lunches, help with the homework, get up at an ungodly hour to get our kids ready each and every day. It’s really no picnic.
Hold onto your hats! Here we go!