So, we’re almost two weeks into the new school year. My kids seem settled into their new routines in 4th grade and 8th grade. Me? Not so much.
Now that my younger son is in 4th grade and I have just two years left as an elementary school parent, I realize that not only are my kids getting older, but I am too. This was especially apparent to me on the first day of school, when I stood outside the school door, waiting for my 4th grader to bound out and announce to me that he was “starving” – our charming daily after-school routine. I glanced over to the door where the tiny first-graders came out, and saw the parents at their first school pickup, pushing a stroller with a younger sibling, or chasing a toddler around the playground.
That was me – seven years ago, picking up a first-grader while simultaneously figuring out how to get through a second round of the Terrible Twos. I got involved in the school, met other moms, and made friends. By the time both kids overlapped in the school, every face there was a familiar one.
Seven years is a pretty long time, if you’re going to the same place twice a day, every day, from September until June. And in seven years, a lot can change. My 8th grader is still more or less that same sweet kid he was in first grade. Unless we’re together in public where he might be seen by another 8th grader. Then he might pretend that he doesn’t know me. My 4th grader is still adorable and energetic.
And me? By the time my family “graduates” from elementary school, I will have spent nearly a decade getting to know teachers and parents, watching my kids learn and grow. In “my” elementary school years, I will have gotten through most of my 40s – arguably the happiest years of my life so far. But it feels strange. I had kids on the older side, and as I’m a little closer to 50 than I am to 40, many of the new parents are in their 30s. They are just beginning this journey, while I’m figuring out how to parent with an arthritic knee, graying hair and a husband with an AARP membership (and no, he’s not generations ahead of me; they send you the paperwork at 50, and if your hankering for discounts outweighs your vanity about your age, it’s a nice thing to have. But I digress).
In another two years, when I have one child in high school and one in middle school, I suspect I will look back on the nine years spent as an elementary school parent as a sweet time in my life. I still enjoy shopping for school supplies and making Halloween costumes; I don’t mind helping with homework and packing lunches. Now I just need my reading glasses to do it all.