Can you hear that sound? It’s silence, the kind that falls after parents have ushered their beloved offspring to a new year of school (well, you might hear cheering from some and weeping from others – both moms and kids – but here the biggest joy of all is the QUIET).
Other years, when my kids were smaller, I used to feel a bit melancholy on their first day. I would get so used to them being home over the long days of summer that I would miss them for the first week.
Now that Ava is grade nine and William is grade six it’s a different experience. They need to return to structure and see their friends. Both of them require challenges, apart from staring at inane Youtube videos all day long. My kids may have mixed feelings about going back to school, but I can see how necessary it is for them.
As our children get older, things change. For Ava, who has four years left of high school before embarking on her own life away from us, these precious last years under our roof take on a fresh significance. She is supposed to grow in independence and begin constructing an identity outside of our family and it’s important for us to support her in this quest.
We have good friends who just said goodbye to both of their university-age daughters. They are now officially empty-nesters. I’ve been texting with my friend about this process and I know it will be here all-too-soon for us as well. The key is to be present and to notice the stage that is happening right now, but also to transition into a more hands-off parenting style so we are all able to celebrate the coming separation instead of fighting it or mourning it.
William is in that in-between age of eleven. He’s not quite ready for the angst of the teen years but also not really a child. It’s a delicate stage, where one foot is on each side of a divide. He longs to be older but also wants to remain young and safe. We are working on encouraging him to step out of his comfort zone and to take more risks. School helps with this.
Every parent-child relationship is different and will require planning and strategy in order to find success. The beginning of September can be a particularly raw time. It’s exciting in one sense and scary in another.
As parents, we get to practice letting go of our children once again. This is their time: to make new friends, to cry and have their feelings hurt, to take risks and soar, to be embarrassed, to learn that if the first five experiments fail you can keep trying until you get where you want to go.
Happy back to school season to all parents and kids. May it be a marvellous year of discovery, compassion, fun and important life lessons learned.