I guess the holiday season has me feeling sentimental today and reflecting back…
When you become a parent, everyone tells you how fast it is going to go. You hear them, but you are overwhelmed in diapers and naps and schedules. You think that it is so hard just to get through the day, how could it possibly go by so fast?
And then, the first day of school comes around. Will she be okay? Will the teacher know if she isn’t feeling well? What if another kid is mean to her? How will she get through the day without me to take care of her?
I was fortunate enough to be friends with my daughter’s kindergarten teacher. I was welcomed into the classroom regularly and Mrs. Walker was always available for me to ask questions and give guidance. She has always been a kindergarten teacher and not only is she an expert in teaching and preparing her students, she also knew how to help a parent through as well.
We have made it all the way through those primary years for my Sunshine now and she is in high school. I have been keenly aware of how little time is left before Sunshine goes off to the big wide world on her own. It is like this is all set up to do it a little bit at a time, for them to break away bit by bit.
Now that she is in high school we are less nervous about her having a tummy ache and more concerned about her choosing her courses. Again, I lucked out in the friend department and happen to be dear friends with her middle school guidance counselor who helped guide us to get her started. But the truth is, now that she is in high school, she is the guider. The teachers and administrators are available to us, but she is expected to handle situations that occur. As hard as that is for me, I get it. They need to learn to go out in the world without us. I am having to trust that they are experts in launching young adults and that means making her navigate high school herself, with us supporting her.
Just as Sunshine’s father and I have learned that consulting an expert is the best way to ease yourself through new situations, Sunshine is now learning that for herself.
Whether your child is starting kindergarten, high school or college, it is important to consult with their teachers and administrators who are the experts. What does their day consist of? What are the work expectations? What do you do if there are challenges? Are there resources for extra help? The biggest mistake is not asking for help when you need it. When you fully know what is expected of your child and where to turn when there are challenges, it becomes much easier to navigate.
If someone had told me all of this back then when we were sending Sunshine off to kindergarten, I would not have listened. I would have been too worried about planning what I was going to bring into her class for her birthday then to worry about high school.
And it is true, you shouldn’t worry yet. Plan your birthday parties and make their Halloween costumes. And enjoy every minute of it. When each stage comes, you will face it. You will find friends and experts who have been through it before and they will guide you. It will be okay.
T0 all you parents out there who are just getting started in the school world, I am not going to mention anything about how fast it goes. I know you are too busy wiping noses and teaching your child how to tie their shoes to appreciate how true those words are.
A few weeks ago, I was riding in the car with Sunshine and she turned to me and said, “Mom, I really like high school. It is just so much better here.”
She is her own guide now, but we will always be there to help steer in the right direction. And for that, I am thankful.
Thanks so much for reading.
Disclosure: This post is written as part of a partnership with State Farm Insurance.