2017-08-01 / Features

Learning about life: THE NEXT CHAPTER

By Glenda Caudle

They’re going back to school. They’re growing up.

And I think my budget will be shot.

Notebooks and backpacks, paper and pencils, crayons and glue, techy stuff and new dress code-compliant clothes, lunch money and club dues. Someone has a hand out every morning.

They’re going back to school. They’re growing up.

And I think I’ll lose my mind.

Missing ponytail holders and mismatched socks. A wrinkled shirt and grubby jeans. Unsigned tests and lost assignments. Somebody is frantic every day, no matter how carefully I organize the night before.

They’re going back to school. They’re growing up.

And I think I might as well become accustomed to chronic fatigue.

Ball games and band competitions, Christmas parties and booster club meetings, teacher conferences and dances in need of chaperones, carpools and more carpools. Somebody needs me to be somewhere constantly. Somewhere other than the place I am.

They’re going back to school. They’re growing up.

And I think I’m not as smart as I use to be.

Foreign languages and advanced math, AP chemistry and the study of countries I didn’t even know existed, computers and French horns. Somebody used to think I was the smartest person in the world. First, I lost out to a kindergarten teacher. Now their friends know it all. The fall from my pedestal has been painful.

They’re going back to school. They’re growing up.

And I think I’ll be reminded just how tough it is to be a parent.

Somebody needs to talk, somebody needs to be encouraged, somebody needs a helping hand, somebody needs a strong nudge in the right direction, somebody needs praise, somebody needs to be reminded who’s in charge, somebody needs a hug. I always thought parenting would come so naturally, but some days my instincts are completely out of sync with what they really have to have.

They’re going back to school. They’re growing up.

And I think I’ll discover absorbing new interests.

College costs and potential scholarships, ACT scores and fall semester transcripts -- concerns beyond my imagination just a few days ago.

They’re going back to school. They’re growing up.

And I think they think I’m unreasonable and too demanding and such a worrier and not nearly as terrific as the mothers of their friends.

Surely there’s some common ground when it comes to curfews and study times, appropriate dress and acceptable entertainment, flattering hair styles and subtle makeup. Maybe we’ll stumble across it by accident this year.

They’re going back to school. They’re growing up.

And I think I need to pay close attention to their companions.

Last year’s nerd transformed to this year’s best buddy, the class prima donna bestowing or withholding favors on a whim, the new kid in town with the unknown past and a charming smile. When it comes to choosing friends, are the stakes higher than they used to be? Or does it just seem that way?

They’re going back to school. They’re growing up.

And I think I’m older and younger, dumber and smarter, tired-er and peppier, poorer and richer, sadder and happier and scared-er and securer than I’ve ever been in my life.

All because of them.

They’re going back to school. They’re growing up.

And I think that “before I know it” -- an easier to accept reference to the rapidly approaching future than “tomorrow” -- my mornings will be inexpensive and unhurried, my phone will be silent on the subject of cookies for the bake sale and costumes for the school play, and when I suddenly recall the capital of Ecuador, no one will benefit from the knowledge.

And I think -- yes, I really think -- that’s when my heart just might begin to break.

Return to top