Written by our Founder and CEO, our Celebrations Pulse Sunday Letters aim to engage with our community. From sharing stories to welcoming your ideas, we want to help you to express, connect, and celebrate the important people in your life.
The words “back to school” conjured up decidedly mixed emotions when we were growing up. On the one hand, the phrase marked summer’s inevitable end and the return to waking up early, hours in the classroom, homework, and tests. But it also meant reconnecting with friends, after-school activities, and the excitement of learning something new.
Once we became parents ourselves, back-to-school season brought back all those memories as we guided our own children through the process of shifting gears into a new academic year. Parents have rituals of their own this time of year, from getting the kids in the right mindset to driving them to stores in search of new clothes, school supplies, and shoes.
All the rituals surrounding back to school are opportunities for parents to connect and strengthen relationships with their children. Mom and Dad, use your power to help your kids understand that the mix of apprehension and excitement is normal. On the long shopping trips, share stories of how you felt as a child getting ready for a new school year and how you overcame your fears. Most of all, talk about all the teachers who made a lasting impression on you.
Growing up, we were always so surprised that we were already in 5th grade, then 8th grade, then in high school, and then college. Back-to-school season is ultimately a reminder of the passage of time and the limited number of years parents and children have together under the same roof.
Glue sticks, crayons, and pens
Matt, a longtime member of our community, recently shared his experience as a father with growing children. For years, he and his wife took the kids on annual shopping trips for all the essentials – glue sticks, crayons, pens, construction paper, and all the other mandatory supplies. But he noticed that the shopping list evolved as time wore on. Gone were the art supplies, replaced by college-ruled paper, protractors, backpacks, and the other tools of high school.
Now, after a dozen back-to-schools with his oldest son, he is preparing to send him off again; however, this time and later this month his son will attend a university in Washington, D.C., which is about four hours from their house. Suddenly, the term “back to school” took on an entirely new dimension.
For Matt, this back-to-school season is bittersweet. He and his wife are excited for their son to begin his new adventure as he widens his circles of friends and experiences. He’s starting down a new pathway as an adult, ready to tackle everything that life will bring to him, throw at him, and amaze him.
We’re really so sad that he’s going away. Where did the 18 years go? We’ll miss having him around and the responsibility of caring for him at home. But we’re proud of the young man he’s become and more than grateful for the 18 years he’s been part of our lives. And we can’t forget that he’ll still be part of our lives even at a distance. We’ll be staying in touch thanks to texts, social media, video chats, and the occasional visits. This back to school is going to be a lesson for him – and for us as we enter a new period of our lives!
Cherish the moments
We can surely relate as we’ve had our own experiences with emptying nests. Now, when August comes, we watch our kids pick up the annual rituals of back to school. As grandparents, we do our part to help; however, we know that our kids will one day also realize that the last back-to-school excursion has appeared out of nowhere. Where does the time go?
As a parent, it’s so easy to think of the back-to-school days as the ultimate chore, and easy to get impatient with the kids when they don’t like an outfit, want a different set of magic markers, or when their attentions wander. If you’re back-to-school shopping this year, use your power and think of it as a cherished period that you can spend with the kids while they’re still young, still at home, and still your babies.
All the best,
Chris & Jim