It’s 8:16 pm, and school starts tomorrow. My soon to be second and fourth graders are excited. They’ve showered. They are chatting away in bed before we tuck them in and give the “Lights out, no more talking” command. The Phillies backpacks are packed with new and recycled school supplies. Sure, they LOVE summer. But they also LOVE school. So for them, tonight is a good night.
For my soon to be seventh grader, not so much! We’ve had several rounds of tears this past week. We’ve heard all about the evils of school and why he hates it so much. We’ve battled the summer math packet, but ignored the summer reading list. (He loves to read, just not what he’s told to read.) He’s in the shower right now, and neither he, nor Jeff and I, are looking forward to bed time for him. Because in his mind, the sooner he falls asleep, the sooner he has to wake up and go to school.
Because my younger two thrive academically, socially, and behaviorally at school, I understand the parents who say they can’t wait for summer to end and school to begin. I understand craving the routine, and not hearing, “I’m bored.” I get it, really I do.
But, unless you have a child with school issues, you may not understand the knot that forms in a mom’s stomach when she thinks of school. You may not understand the tears wept and the prayers prayed that hopefully this will be a good year. You may not understand the fear felt when the phone rings and caller ID tells you it is the school calling … and not because you are worried that your child is sick or hurt, but because you really do not want to hear what he did now.
I’ll be honest, I wish just as much as he does that I could tell him he didn’t have to worry about school. I hate it for him just as much as he hates it. But for the next 6 years, he still has to go. And so I pray:
God, please be with my son this year. Please help him to find joy in his days at school and not to be angry. Please help him to be surrounded by students that will encourage him and build him up and drown out the voices of any students who may want to tear him down. Please help his new support teacher “get” him and know the best ways to help him. Please give the teachers an extra dose of patience and love for him. Please give him an extra dose of kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control for them. Please help him to find his words and his voice when he needs it, and help him to keep his mouth closed when he needs to.
God I am worried. I am trying to trust in you with my son. But still I worry. Help me to trust you. Help him to trust you. Help us both to cast all of our fears, anxieties, and worries on you, so that you can fill us with your peace.
Are you worried about your child and school? Do you know that knot in your stomach? Have you shed more than your share of tears? Know that I understand. I stand with you. I am praying now for you. And together we will press on!
And thankfully, I get to share the journey with a wonderful, wise man. Here are the words he wrote about the start of school:
As we are on the eve of another new school year… here’s what I (Jeff Kerchner) want my own children and my students to know:
1. Be kind and respectful… treat the other students and adults who work at the school the way you want them to treat you.
2. Try your best.
3. If you remember and put into practice #1 and #2, I will be incredibly proud of you no matter what grades you receive, and you can be proud of yourself.
4. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; instead learn from them and move on.
5. Don’t be afraid to try new things; use those opportunities to find out what you like.
6. Being popular is over-rated, and many people you think are popular often feel just as unsure about themselves as you do.
7. Don’t compare yourself to others.
8. Don’t give up if you aren’t good at something right away.
9. Practice getting along with others; this skill is a much better predictor of your future success than any test score.
10. If you need help with anything please ask for it, and don’t feel embarrassed… everyone needs help, and every school has people who truly want to help you.
11. You are not alone.
12. There are other people who can and do understand how you are feeling.
13. This time of your life will not last for long, and you will make it through…
14. … and as you go, remember that you are loved…
Pressing on Together,
P.S. I know it’s been a crazy long time since I posted anything. I’m not sure if I still have any readers, it’s been so long. But as part of my new year’s resolution (because we all know that the start of the school year is really the new year), I plan on writing again. If you’ll read, I’d love to meet you here Monday through Friday.