A Flood of Thoughts (aka Back to School Panic Attack)

Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.  Proverbs 23:12

Back to School 2015

Back to School 2015

I have a LOVE/HATE relationship with the whole “back to school” thing. I LOVE that my kids have the opportunity to grow and learn under the guidance of some pretty amazing teachers. I HATE that summer break is over.  I LOVE that my kiddos are social butterflies…it’s good for them to be with their friends in the classroom and it takes the pressure off my role as “entertainment director.”  I HATE that we have to wake up early.  I LOVE having the house to myself for a few hours a day…and I HATE having the house to myself a few hours a day…you get the picture.  So this morning as my daughter was packing up for her first day of 5th grade…something tripped my panic button hard–this wasn’t just the first day of 5th grade…no…, this was the first day of her last year in elementary school!  I HATE the panic button 😦

As luck would have it (I’m saying this sarcastically,) we walked to school this morning…thus giving me plenty of time to think and let the panic button go to work.  Was she prepared?  Was she nervous?  Would this be a good year?  What really makes a school year good?  It wasn’t long before my panic attack became a full blown list of “did I tell her….?”  So for my sanity (because this “back to school” thing is all about me,) I’ve come up with a few thoughts to share with her (after school, of course.)

  1. School is about learning.  Sure you go there to learn the “school” stuff, but you will learn so much more. You’ll learn about yourself.  Each day you’ll grow in discovering who you are, what you stand for, and all that you’re capable of accomplishing.  You’ll find out what you like and what you don’t like (and you just might be surprised how the categories break down!)
  2. No one said you have to know everything…so give yourself a break.  Some things will come easily.  Other things will make you work (hard.)  Both are good.
  3. Relationships are tough, but worthwhile.  Getting to know a new teacher will take time.  Building friendships take time.  Discovering who to avoid…well, that takes time, too.  Not everyone will like you and you probably won’t like everyone.  Either way, be kind.  You never know what someone else is going through. If you want a friend, be a friend.  It is far better to be remembered for being a “good guy” than a total jerk.
  4. Pay attention.  Learning requires focus.  Don’t assume anything.  Ask questions.  It’s okay not to get it the first time.  Practice, preparation and performance are related.  Don’t get behind.  If you need help, say something.
  5. Trust your instincts.  God gives us that little voice for a reason.  Tune your ears and your heart to it.  Remember that peer pressure can be a trap.  Comparing yourself to others is never a good idea.
  6. Think before you speak.  Words can hurt.  Offer grace and understanding at every turn.  Compassion for others goes a long way.  Be a helper.
  7. Even good kids make mistakes.  You’re not perfect, none of us are.  Making mistakes goes beyond the classroom.  You know where I stand on drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, etc.  Likewise, you should realize that lying, cheating, and disrespect will also not be tolerated.  At the same time, I love you and together we can work through anything.
  8. It’s okay to pray at school.  I’m not telling you to get on the loud speaker and lead a revival, but don’t be afraid to ask God to guide you throughout your day.
  9. School is your job right now.  As your mother, I will be on you to do your homework, study for tests and remind you not to take short cuts.  This is important for you now and in the future, but school performance is not the sum of your worth.
  10. Attitude is everything.  You get what you give.  You will have bad days.  Life is unfair.  How you navigate through the good and the bad says a lot about your character.  You can do this.  I believe in you no matter what.

So my LOVE/HATE relationship with this time of year continues.  I LOVE that I have the opportunity to share these thoughts with my daughter.  I HATE that she’s growing up so fast.  I LOVE watching my kiddos move forward on this journey toward adulthood.  I HATE that tomorrow morning my son will have his first day of eighth grade.  I can hear the panic button gearing up now….

Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 

 

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Back to School Essentials (7 Must Haves You Won’t Find on Any School Supply List)

Casey First Day of School 2009

Casey First Day of School 2009

It’s that time of year! And the back to school vibe is so pervasive you can practically smell it…(and it ain’t rosy!)  Alarm clocks set, buses running, backpacks on and lunches packed, this is show time!  So whether you’re Best Dressed or Total Mess, Ready Freddie or Nervous Nelly, the school bell’s ringing and there’s no stopping it.   Like most dutiful moms, I’ve done the shopping and the supply gathering, made sure the kiddos have been the recipients of stylish haircuts and good shoes, and we’ve definitely run the gauntlet when it comes to Back to School Night.  Still, there’s a few things that I wish I could bundle up and tuck into the backpacks of my children (and every child for that matter.)  You won’t find them on the shelf at any discount store, but they might just make all the difference.  So load up on these seven BIG back to school necessities….

1.  To Thine Own Self Be True.  Let’s motivate our children to walk into the classroom with a sense of self.  Remind your children WHO they are and WHAT they stand for.  Let’s be authentic and real with one another, forget the game playing.  The mean girls garbage, the bullying and the backbiting.  A good majority of us are capable (even at a young age) of understanding what is acceptable and what isn’t.  Parents be an example.

2.  Be Kind, Rewind.  Remember this saying from the days of video rentals and VCR’s?  Might I suggest that we urge our children to adopt this little mantra as a way of extending grace to one another and ourselves?  One of my favorite exercises in kindness invites us to think BEFORE we speak.  We can effectively offer kindness by pausing to check ourselves, especially when dealing with a difficult person.  PAUSE…and ask, “How does this sound out loud?  Am I treating others the way I want to be treated?”  I often remind my kiddos to be kind to themselves, too.  Sometimes we’re our own worst critic.  Kindness is a wonderful gift.

Sean First Day of School 2005

Sean First Day of School 2005

3.  Mind Your Zzzz’s and Eat Your Peas.  Do your children a favor and help them develop healthy eating and sleeping habits.  Numerous studies show that students learn better and have a more positive school experience when they get enough sleep and eat regular, nutritious meals.  I’m just as guilty as the next Mom.  McDonald’s is soooo easy and convenient and one more episode of their favorite show won’t hurt…or will it?  Remember, grown-ups, we ARE in charge!

4.  Game Plan.  Having a strategy for homework, school projects and extra-curricular activities is vital to maintaining a sane household.  We’ve all had that child come home and have a breakdown because they’ve procrastinated on a project, didn’t pay attention to a lesson in class, or flat out fell behind.  Let’s encourage our children to be proactive, make a schedule and take pride in all that they do.

5.  Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously.  This applies to kiddos AND parents.  There’s nothing like laughter to diffuse a tense situation.  Finding the joy and the fun in life is critical to a person’s overall well-being.  Make time to laugh, giggle and create good times (and good memories) with one another.  Remember, it’s not all rocket science.

6.  Your Loved Ones Have Your Back.  There’s nothing quite so overwhelming and utterly terrifying as feeling alone and like no one understands.  Create an atmosphere in your home and in your relationships where each person knows their value and worth.  Most parents (guardians and caregivers) would go to any length to protect the children they love.  I want my children to succeed and you want your children to succeed, too.  Fostering a safe and loving environment can be the catalyst that moves a child in a positive direction.

7.  You Gotta Have Faith.  We’ve all heard the term separation of church and state, as well as the countless other arguments about keeping religion out of school.  Fine, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave your personal faith in the school parking lot.  Let’s remind our kids that God is present and active in our daily lives, not just at home or at church, but all the time.  It’s okay to carry your Christian values into the school building.  Christ’s example of grace, mercy and love will be a welcome addition to any education environment.  Looking out for one’s neighbor, a spirit of forgiveness, and a desire to treat each other justly and with respect will make any school year one to remember.  I tell my children it’s perfectly acceptable to say a silent prayer before a tough test, for a classmate going through a trying time and especially for our teachers and administrators.  In our home, we pray for our schools, our classmates and teachers before bed each night…why would we stop between the hours of 8am and 3pm during the week?  I want my kiddos to know that there is a 24/7 God who knows each of us, loves us dearly and has a wonderful plan and purpose for our lives.

So as we snap and post those first day of school photos, let’s be intentional about making this THE school year where we put first things first and load up on all the essentials for our best school experience yet (kiddos and parents alike!) 🙂

Intelligence plus character…that is the goal of true education.  –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.