It's the night before a new school year, and my daughter -- going into second grade -- went to sleep with butterflies in her stomach. The day didn't start off with so much tension. In fact, it was the opposite -- the whole day was a burst of excited energy -- buying and preparing school supplies, taking out her uniform, reviewing the class lists, finishing up our summer homework (ahem -- a lot of time was spent doing this until late into the evening.) But once the homework was done, the backpack put beside the door, and we got into bed, the tears started to flow. I was reminded of how when I was young, about a week before school started, without fail I would get a rash on my face. Oh, how tense I used to be about the uncertainty -- year after year after year. Even though I loved school and had great friends, it always sucked to go back to school and college.
Tonight, I could only encourage my daughter that it was going to be a great year, seeing all her friends after a long summer, meeting new teachers, and the prospect of learning so many new things. I pointed out that Leela, her younger sister, had a stomachache last month as we drove to her new school for an orientation. But upon arrival, she was welcomed with open arms and loved the school.
Heck, even President Barack Obama had a message for Tara and other students this year, I told her. (On a side note, I think its great that our children are being welcomed back to school by the President with a message of responsibility and empowerment for their future. For the President to take the time to welcome kids back to school sends an important message to them -- education and school matters.)
To be honest though, the lure of President Obama's speech did nothing to quell my daughter's nerves. Ultimately though, compassion did...
Tara worried that she didn't know the new boy who was joining her class this year -- I pointed out that while she didn't know him, she knew all the other kids. Since he was new, imagine what it would be like for him to not know 19 kids. Somehow this reasoning quelled her fears a bit. I could see her mind processing, imagining, empathizing. She bravely wiped away her tears, and had to agree. He must be really scared. Her body language shifted from apprehension to empowerment. She had a purpose in her little mind -- she could help out the new kid in school.
She snuggled into her pillow. As she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep, I could see she was still apprehensive, but also now a little determined, even excited.
Sweet dreams, baby. It's going to be a fabulous year!
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