Well, the first week of school is in the books and the madness associated with it put me behind on sharing this but I found the night before the first day of school very different for high schoolers than grade schoolers. Here’s what it looked like 8 years ago:
And here’s what it looked like a few days ago:
That’s one of the marvellous things about the journey of parenting, nothing ever stays the same.
Hard to believe 7 years ago this was the scene playing out as we dropped our son off for grade 1. Today, my grade 8’er zoomed away on his bike with a wave and a smile, and my grade 10’er got picked up by a friend.
The days are long but the years are short. Enjoy the ride.
I guess I shouldn’t complain. A week and a bit into school and so far there are no complaints. When I see the kids and ask them how their day was, I’m hoping to hear about funny things that happened with friends, class updates, teacher stories, team goings-on. Pretty much every day the answer I get is “Fine”.
I suppose fine is a lot better than: “Awful”, or “I hated my day and I can’t wait for summer.” or “That was the worst day I’ve ever had in my entire life. It could be the worst day anyone has every had in the entire world.” Answers like these would lead to bigger conversations than I’m probably really ready for. I’ve had a busy day too and getting dinner prepped and after school activities in line is enough of a distraction.
I’m a parent.
So, I’m unrealistically looking for a glimpse, just a sliver of insight into how my kid’s day went so perhaps the answer they are giving me is just…
We all know the days are long and the years are short, but summer, it just seems to fly by every year. There is a palpable freedom that comes with the summer months, best appreciated during one’s school years. It’s an easy comparison: sitting a desk or riding your bike/going for a hike/eating ice cream in the middle of the day/going to camp/wondering what to do to fill a day… Summer comes and we all take a deep breath to relax and when we release fully September has hit us and the new year starts.
When the kids were young I used to lie awake at night wondering if they’d like their teacher, if their friends would stay their friends, what they’d learn to love, what they’d learn to move on from. Now, with high school a part of our lives and another in middle school I find myself writing this late at night before the first day of school wondering, will they like their teacher, will their friends stay their friends, what will they learn to love and what will they learn to move on from. I guess not much has changed but it feels like the effects of these questions becomes more intense as they get older.
Thanks for the great memories summer 2017. Let’s make some new great memories over the next school year.
My first reaction after he asked to go out and buy something else was to shut it down. I’d already taken time out of my day to go to two separate stores to buy the gifts and with dinner to make, skis to wax and driving to co-ordinate with other families, adding another trip to a store was non-negotiable. Heap on top of that the fact that I was the one pushing for this to be done ahead of the night before the exchange was to happen and I felt secure in my inflexibility. He pouted. I simmered.
After a short while he came back and explained how his secret Santa had “finally” told him what she wanted, and then it hit me. These secret Santa gift exchanges are nuts. As a kid, you’re assigned a person who you may or may not know and you’re given a limit on spending (it’s getting bigger every year as this year’s limit was $20. Twenty bucks?! I thought this was supposed to be a small thing, five bucks, tops.). I suppose the purpose of this activity is to enact thoughtful behaviour towards someone else. To take a moment to sereptiously inquire into your secret Santa recipient’s likes and interests and then search around for a worthy gift that will surprise and delight them. Here’s the reality though. It’s another thing to add to already the busiest time of the year. Kids (well my kid) are either disinterested in the melancholic notion of gift giving or blatant in assessing their recipients interests by asking them outright which eliminates the “secret” part of the giving anyway. At $20, I’m not asking my kid to take that out of his allowance and savings so now I’m on the hook for another whack of dollar store crap. Oh, and in return my kid is going to get something that ineveitably will wind up in the trash heap or the second hand store in two weeks anyway…
Ouch. Am I sounding Scrooge-like? Perhaps, but let me offer an alternative idea.
Let’s take the money we were going to spend on a kid in a privileged school who doesn’t need something else to begin with and allocate that to a charity within our town. Let’s create one of those giant fake cheques with the amount raised in the class and present that (and the actual cash) to the charity in question, take a photo and keep that in the classroom as a reminder of the value of giving to those in need. Secrets aren’t broken. Parents aren’t running around to find a gift. Kids are reinforced with the importance of helping others. Everyone wins. Isn’t that more in the spirt of the season?
And yes, I did got out with him to buy the thing she said she wanted. Sigh.