Monica J. Griffith

It may be hard to believe that summer is nearly over. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea that soon we will be preparing for fall. The warm summer days, picnics, baseball games and lawn mowing season is quickly fading. I know this to be true, because of what I see at the store. The shelves are filled with pens, crayons, paper, notebooks, rulers and all the required needs for those back to school shoppers. Lunch boxes and thermos bottles (can you believe they still have thermos bottles!) and backpacks scream from every end-cap. I’ve never seen so many boxes of Little Debbie snacks and huge boxes of snack size chips. Yes, it is true – it’s time for that first day of school!

This is really a tough time for kids (of all ages).

There are kids who are just starting kindergarten or who have been promoted to one of the ‘big’ schools or perhaps they have moved and are starting in a new school. For this group, there is almost a giddy anticipation coupled with a nervous excitement of a new and thrilling and scary adventure. It’s as though they want to keep one foot on the familiar and can barely hold back the joy of diving into something new.

And there is the group who are starting a new level, likely at the same school. They look forward to seeing classmates again and wonder how the homework will be and will there be any new kids in class. The routine is familiar and perhaps there is nothing much to look forward to. Unless, of course, now they are at the highest level and get to be the ‘bosses’!

For some kids, they will be repeating last year’s work again. They are likely hopeful no one will recognize them. They may wonder if the teachers will remember if they caused trouble last year! They may be wondering if this time, they will be able to pass, or if they will get the help they need – because they really are smart! Perhaps the good will carry forward and the not-so-good will be wiped clean!

Finally, there are the parents. Some are relieved to hear the school bell sound. Finally, summer break is over and now we can get back into a routine! Some parents will be as nervous as their children – at least for that first full day – full of worry and wonder how their little (or nearly grown one) is doing on his/her first day. What do you think goes through a parent’s mind: Will they fit-in; will they have friends; I wonder if there will be homework; I wonder if I will be able to help my child; do I remember long division; will they eat lunch; did they get enough sleep last night; do they know which bus to get on…The questions seem endless!

What can parents or the adults in a child’s life do to help make this back-to-school ritual a great jumping off point for our children? Oh, there is much to do, and somehow most of it gets done.

What I see that is more important than doing is how we can BE with and for them; that is how we are being in relationship with our kids. Take a moment to reflect on your relationship with your children. What does it ‘look like’ when you are caring, encouraging and kind? How would your child describe when you show-up as honest, hopeful and creative? When do you demonstrate being a parent who is loving, passionate and alive?

What would it be like for you to make a list of how you are being these attributes – then, ask your children to do the same about you? Of course, after you do this for you – do it for them and have them repeat the task for themselves. I promise, this will make very interesting conversation and a thought-provoking foundation as you send them off on the mountains they will climb.