For all intents and purposes, the summer is over. Technically, there may be another month until the arrival of fall, but since tomorrow is THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, summer for our family is no more. Tomorrow we will begin the clumsy transition process from a comfortable routine to a new normal.
I’ll be honest, I do not deal well with transitions of any kind and this one is particularly difficult for me. For the past several months, we have lived in a little cocoon of our own making. We have surrounded ourselves with those people we most enjoy and who bring out the best in us. We have engaged in activities that bring us joy, trying to maximize our fun and minimize our stress. We have slowed down, rested, and focused on simple joys.
Soon we will be tethered to a routine that consists of hectic mornings, heavy backpacks, and PTA committees. This latest transition into a new school year, as Jackson enters first grade, brings extra anxiety and apprehension for me. I feel ill-equipped to handle the mountains of paperwork, school forms, and homework that I know will be thrust our way. And, after a relatively sheltered summer, I am wary of tossing Jackson back into a world filled with evaluation and judgment, standardized tests and lunchroom politics, labels and stereotypes, and people who might not have his best interests at heart. And I am angry at the quick passage of time, taking my son from a needy newborn to a spunky first-grader in the blink of an eye.
I understand that these things are just part of life, characteristics of this crazy, beautiful world that we live in. Nonetheless, I am scared to expand the scope of our world (both his and mine) and move into unchartered territory.
But, I suppose, this transition is just another part of growing up – for both Jackson and me. School is certainly about learning the skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic – tools that I definitely want him to master – but isn’t it just as important to learn those skills that are beyond evaluation? Skills like how to bring out the best in other people, how to find your voice, how to trust the value of your opinions, how to be confident in your inherent worth, how to leave the world better than when you found it. These are the skills that I, as an adult, I am still struggling to learn and master.
So this year, while Jackson is learning to share and follow directions, working on reading and spelling, and discovering new friends and new facts, I will be dealing with this uncomfortable transition process by schooling myself as well. I will be learning to become a better listener and a more patient person. I will be working on balancing hard work and confidence with humility and trust in something outside of myself. I will be discovering ways to shut out the things that don’t matter so that I can make room for the things that do.
Transitions are always hard and this one is no different. It will be a difficult, bumpy road at times. But tomorrow morning when I drop my son off at school, after a few tears (mine, not his), I will say a prayer that this year is a memorable, educational, and enlightening year – for both of us.
How do you handle transitions?