The start of September is almost like New Year’s Day for me. Just as I wonder on January 1 how the previous year went by so quickly, I often wonder in early September how the summer flew by. Wasn’t it just early June and my boys couldn’t wait to get out of school?
The back-to-school season brings a sense of hope for the upcoming school year. Each school year produces new challenges and I often hope that our family gets through it with minimal stress and meltdowns. As the boys get older, the homework increases, the after-school activities add up and the bedtimes get later. Meanwhile, I’m getting older and love going to bed earlier and earlier.
This year presents a new challenge for us. My oldest son will be in eighth grade and remaining at our public middle school, a decision that makes the most sense for us due to his special education needs. However, my youngest son, who will be going into the sixth grade, will be moving to a parochial middle school/high school in a neighboring city. A new school, new people to get to know, new policies and protocols, a different academic calendar….and new expenses. We are excited about this new adventure for him and this seems to be the best school after researching our options, but it’s not without its challenges for two working parents. There are no bussing options and we are still researching carpool options. It’s a lot to figure out and fortunately we have some flexibility for the first few weeks. By November we’ll be in a groove and then something will change—an activity will be added to the mix or our carpool will change. We know we’ll figure it all out, as we always do, but September is always a new beginning for many families. I look forward to it with excitement, hope and a little bit of parental trepidation. It isn’t just the kids who get nervous about back to school!
Dismissal time from school—ask many moms who pick their children up and the stories will just start. You’ll hear stories of people nearly getting hit people or of cars getting dinged. You might hear stories about parents yelling at each other or using hand gestures to communicate their frustrations to each other. You’ll hear about mothers grasping the steering wheel in frustration while simultaneously trying not to curse with the kids in the car. (Oh wait, that might be me.)
Why does all of this happen? Why do normally rational people, who typically obey traffic laws, park wherever they want, despite the amount of cars that become blocked in by people doing whatever they want? Why do some people feel they can just cross the roadway with their kid’s hand clenched in theirs, even when they see a car coming?
I’ve always found the entitlement that occurs during pick up and drop off to be interesting. It’s so frustrating to me to be waiting to get to a safe spot to pull over to drop off my kids and the person in front of me is dilly-dallying. Is it really necessary to pull over (to the drop off area that is supposed to move quickly), get out of the car at a snail’s speed, get little Johnny out of the car, grab his backpack from the TRUNK (why doesn’t he have it in the backseat with him??) and then make a production out of the hugs and kisses you have to give him? The best is when the mom stands there and watches him walk up the steps and into the building and waves the entire time.
I somewhat understand why people are frustrated in the afternoon. People are rushing to get home and get homework done, or they need to go to an activity or they need to go to another school to pick up another child. The latter is my frustration this year. Both kids are in two different schools, but they get out at the same time. My oldest gets a bit nervous waiting for me, even though he now has a cell phone and calls to find out when I’ll be there, so I feel the need to rush to get to him. Even so, I still don’t park wherever I want and block people in so that I can get out first. That’s just obnoxious.
Do you have any interesting tales to tell about drop-off and dismissal at your kids’ school?
**Note: the drop-off scenario mentioned above does not represent a particular person. This represents a combination of many scenarios I’ve observed over the years.
They can be a lot of fun when they are older. My boys both have birthdays next month and my oldest will be 12 and my youngest will be 9. I sometimes wonder where the time has gone, but they are at ages now that are fun. They can joke, they are pretty self-sufficient (I haven’t wiped a bum in years) and they can enjoy things that my husband and I also enjoy—take, for instance, sports.
My kids are kind of obsessed with Boston sports. It can be a great thing when a team is winning and it kind of stinks when they lose. When my youngest cried when the Patriots lost the last Super Bowl in which they played, I was not happy. But waking my kids up this morning to tell them that the Boston Bruins won last night after a big come back was awesome. And it’s not just that they were happy that they won. When my kids asked which team the Bruins will play in the next series and my husband told them, my oldest said, “That’s going to be tough for them” because they get it. They understand the games a heck of a lot more than I do. They can have conversations about the games with my husband and talk statistics and analysis. I end up left out of these conversations because I really don’t understand this stuff at all, but that’s ok.
And it’s not just sports. My youngest loves to talk about current events. He loves to take in information and learn new things, so he loves to know what is going on in the world. It’s amazing to listen to an 8-year-old’s perspective.
While it stinks to think of how quickly the years fly by, I love the young men my boys are becoming. I love that they are taking life in and participating in it. I love that they can team up with their dad and tease me. I love listening to them have conversations with adults. And my oldest might almost be as tall as I am, but both boys still make sure to give me a hug and a kiss before bed. After all, they are still my boys.
When 9/11 occurred, my oldest son was three months old exactly that day. In my mind, three months old was supposed to be a turning point. I remember waking up that morning with a sense of hope—hope that this little person I brought into the world would start being a bit fun. I hoped that he would go from being this little guy who peed, pooped, spit up, cried, and didn’t sleep through the night to one who slept more, cried less and smiled and laughed more. The sun was shining that day and I was filled with hope. I went to bed that night wondering what kind of cruel world my son would grow up in.
Yesterday was a similar day. The energy from the Boston Marathon was incredible—and I was only watching from home. I watched some of the local coverage of the race, did homework and chores around the house, ran errands and then the boys and I went for a bike ride for about an hour beginning at about 2 p.m. I came home and uploaded a picture of us to Facebook and when I checked a notification on it a few minutes later, I saw friends posting about an explosion at the finish line and figured I should turn the television back on. I was not prepared for what I was about to see.
I was horrified by what was occurring on the TV screen. What the heck had happened? I then thought of a childhood neighbor who was running, as well as a local radio personality who was running for Boston Children’s Hospital and—don’t laugh—Joey McIntyre from New Kids on the Block, who was running for charity also. I didn’t think I knew anyone else who may have been there. After checking social media, I discovered that all three were ok.
It was eery to watch the coverage of the attack, as I was looking at it through the lens of a mom who wanted to shield her children from some of the coverage, much like I did after the Newtown tragedy. I knew it couldn’t be on 24/7 like the 9/11 coverage was when my oldest was just a baby.
When I heard that one of the deceased was an 8-year old boy, my heart sank. I have an 8-year-old son. This shouldn’t happen to small children. It shouldn’t be a part of our children’s world, but it is. And it stinks.
Give your kids some extra hugs today. We live in a cruel world, but they need to feel the love around them.