It’s September, Again

September is another kind of  New Year’s for me. Like January 1st, it represents  one of those times when you can reflect and reorganize your priorities and get back into all those routines that seem necessary to move us forward in life. As an adult I actually don’t mind this time of year.  I love getting back to work and the structure that comes with a school day.  For many kiddos, though, back to school is back to hell.  Simple as that.

Personally, back in the day returning to school was often fraught with anxiety.  I was the new girl more times than a girl should be and the stress of changing schools and not knowing who the teachers would be and whether they would be mean or nice, and wondering what the bus ride would be like, and where I would sit in class, and then at lunch, and asking myself if I would have to spend recess by myself was overwhelming!  Add to that the feeling that you are not smart enough or pretty enough or sporty enough and you have the recipe for a very difficult first day.  Sadly, there are so many kiddos who feel this exact same way.  I can see the tension on their faces and the fear in their eyes when they get off the bus and I think to myself – It shouldn’t be this hard.

There are kiddos, like my Lolo, that love school and they walk through the door every day with their heads close together with a friend’s and they are giggling over a continued conversation from the bus.  There are kids who happily show up and can’t wait to learn the math or the social studies or the physics lesson of the day.  Wouldn’t it be great if we could infuse every child with the confidence and skills to find the joy in each new school day?

One of the challenges is that like adults, kiddos accumulate life experiences and it begins to color their perception about what to expect in every situation.  Luke loved school until he didn’t.  And what was the difference?  What was the impetus for that change in attitude?  Truthfully, there were a number of things, but ultimately it was how his teachers responded to him.  The more Luke felt like his teachers didn’t like him or were giving him a hard time, the more difficult it became for him to care about his school work.  And I’m not saying his teachers didn’t like him – I am saying this was Luke’s perception.  And I will preach till I am out of breath, that *Perception* is all that matters.  Every August – even up to his last one – Luke would talk about how this would be *the* year.  Things were going to be different and he was going to try and he was going to get organized and he was going to be successful.  And he would walk through that door with big intentions and they would last for a while – it was almost two weeks that last year – until a teacher would say something to make him feel small and he would just say “See Mom?!  It is the same every time!  The teachers hate me and what’s the point?”  And what do you say to that?  I will never forget the time, friends, I came home from work and Luke was up in his room on his bed with his fists clenched and he was so full of rage over how a teacher had belittled him in front of the other students.  His feelings were HURT that this adult had done this and as his mother… well, I cried a lot over that one.  Who does that to a child?  And ultimately, whether they are 5 or 15 they are just kids.

SO here’s what I want you to know:  If you are reading this and your child loves school, YAY YOU!  What a gift!  Tell them how proud they should be of themselves that they love something so important.  If you are reading this and your child tells you every day they don’t like school or they don’t want to go to school, we have to figure that out.  And by we I mean WE.  It will take all of us.  Talk to a therapist, talk to the teachers, talk, talk, talk to try and get to the underlying issue.  These things don’t go away, friends, they are a problem to be resolved or more often than not, a strategy that needs to be taught.  But your kiddos need to know you believe them and you will do your darndest to help get them through it.

Lastly, if you are reading this and you are an educator, please remember that in September all some kids want is a clean slate.  An opportunity to be a better self than they were the year before.  As the adults I believe our job is to make connections and form relationships and love them… because if they don’t feel, truly feel that we care about them, we have lost them.  And sometimes when we lose them, it’s forever.

I need you to know
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  • Nikki
    September 2, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    Love this one … so true! It can be so incredibly hard for some kids. Thanks for putting into words and sharing ❤️

  • Kelly
    September 2, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    Spot on. All things to think upon.
    Everyone needs a fresh start as we are always developing and changing.

  • Donna Inwood
    September 2, 2018 at 10:29 pm

    So well said Patty and oh so true. I’m not saying that because the teachers never got Luke or what he was about led to his final decision because it’s never one thing. I do believe though had his teacher/teachers just taken the time to understand Luke and put the effort in to make him feel like he was doing something right or even improving maybe that one thing could have given him a better feeling about himself. Thankfully your students will never feel less than. Oh that all teachers could be just like you.