As my children start a new school year I find myself feeling somewhat sad, somewhat excited, and somewhat conflicted. My three school aged children started school this week. I have a second grader, a tenth grader, and my adult child is starting a new program at Vo-Tech. Every year they start a new year, one year older, and one year closer to adulthood and I find myself with so many conflicted feelings.
Of course starting a new year brings new opportunities, new adventures, new experiences, and new friends and teachers. Of course this is exciting for my daughters and for me as well. More chances for me to see them grow, learn, experience, and explore the world.
At the same time with each year that passes there comes a realization that they are growing to quickly. In the midst of homework, ball games, concerts, and field trips there will be moments when you stop and realize that they have grown another three or four inches, their hair has gotten so long, they seem so grown up, or they have lost that baby face they used to have. These are the moments that leave me conflicted and wanting to grab them, curl up with them to cuddle while we stop time from marching forward. These are the moments that remind me that I need to take the time now to cherish where they are at this time in our lives.
I know there isn’t much I can do about stopping time or stopping feelings of conflict but there are some things I’d like my daughters to remember as they start a new school year. So here is my letter to my daughters as they approach a new milestone in their lives.
As you embark on this new venture in your life, into a new school year, new grade, new teacher, and new classes please remember the following things.
Don’t be in such a hurry to grow older. I know it’s exciting as you’re able to do more things, have more responsibility, and have new experiences like driving, going to the big kid school, buying your first car, and everything else that the next year will bring for you. However, remember that once you are an adult you will have plenty of time to act responsibly and do “grown up” things, but it’s much more socially acceptable to act like a child when you are actually a child.
Don’t be so annoyed when me and your father want to take pictures, tell embarrassing stories about you from when you were a child, or document every second of your school year in scrapbooks (that you think you will never look at). You know how much you love to look at old pictures of your father and myself? Your children will want to do the same one day and grandma will gladly pull out all those scrapbooks and show them off! And one day when you are older and you have children starting a new season of life you just might want to remember those childhood moments yourself.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Life can be big, overwhelming, and even scary sometimes. Just remember that you are not the first to feel those emotions the first time you try something new. However, if you everyone coward under these emotions then the world would be a very boring place. Allow yourself to branch out, do something you have never tried before, take risks (within reason), and put yourself out there. It might not always go well every time, you might even fail, but life is about learning experiences. When we fail we shouldn’t hang our head and retreat, ask yourself what could I do differently to have a better outcome and try again.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There will be times that you don’t know everything, that you’re not sure what the best move is, and you need some advice. Ask me, ask your father, ask your sisters, ask your teachers, ask your friends. Believe it or not your parents were once your age as well, we remember what it was like and what we learned from our experiences just might help you to make the right choice. Even when you think you will be in trouble, ask.
Don’t be mean to others. I realize that friends, classmates, and people in general are not always going to be nice to you but that doesn’t mean that you can do the same. Be nice even in times when it’s really hard. Be nice to everyone, ever race, every gender, every religion, every disability, every person. There will be times that you will be met with a choice between being nice and being accepted by others and that may mean that you have to disagree with your friends or even take a stand against your friends but put yourself in that person’s shoes and ask yourself what you would want someone to do for you.
Don’t give up. There will be times when giving up seems like an option, the easy choice, heck maybe even the only choice. However, you always have options but giving up is not the right option. Fight for what you believe in, fight for the things you want in life, and work hard. Even if you fail as long as you give everything you have and keep trying you are a winner.
And finally, don’t forget that we love you. We always will, no matter what. It doesn’t matter what you do, what you say, what mistakes you might make we will always love you.