By Lynne Slawnych
I am not a teacher but I’ve still always measured the year from September to June. In my 10-month year, I’ve looked forward to and cherished the breaks – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and then that one big recess known as summer holidays. Summer is the glorious release from the obligations of being the parent of a school age kid and having to know whether it’s a gym day or if an assignment is due. During summer I loved that my guys could sleep in and fill their days with friends and play. And sometimes idleness, when just hanging out at home was good enough for them.
Weeks in advance, we start hearing about getting the kids ready to go back to school; endless talk on the radio on how to prepare them for early mornings and us for speed limits in school zones. And the TV dazzles us with non-stop commercials filled with beautiful, dancing kids shopping at Wal-Mart or Target or wherever the prices just can’t be beat. Those kids can’t wait to be back in school, but in my house, July and August would fly by far too quickly, with the fall routine taking over. Add two after-school activities per week and multiply by the number of children you have to calculate how many hours you’ll be driving the taxi this year.
But now my kids are finished high school and grown up. And the world has changed. Or has it? In fact, not much changes. They still control the purse strings, but from further away where things seem to be a lot more expensive!New anxieties replace the old ones of fitting in, having friends and passing math. Are their marks good enough to get in to the university they’ve chosen? Is it the right university? Do they even know what they want to do at school, much less for the rest of their lives? Do we let them pack (and forget everything important) or do we over-parent and make sure they have laundry soap, coat hangers and socks? Do we remind them to be safe or just pray that they will be? Will they survive without us or will they prove they don’t need us (which is almost as bad)? Will they fit in, have friends and pass math?Whether they’re heading off to grade one or their fourth year of university, September brings an end to the recess of summer and signifies the real beginning of the year. It marks the passage of my children’s lives and of my own. Happy new year!