Back to School
Five Life Lessons to Help Navigate The Next Year
article by Cindy G. Foust
Well, here we all are again readers, at the start of another school year, except for me, dear friends, this one sits a little bit different. You see, my girl is starting her senior year of high school. Another milestone for Scott and me that I am not quite ready for. But here we are just the same. I didn’t think I would be ready when my son got married last year, but I made it through that to tell about it, so I know I will when my daughter graduates, as well. What I wouldn’t give though, to flash back to her kindergarten days…smocked dresses with school buses on them…playing school on a daily basis with her Build-A-Bears…learning to skip in dance class. The truth it, it goes by in flash. I get in my feels sometimes (I think this is what the young kids say but the translation is I am going down memory lane) and I think about all the years I spent worrying about a lot of things that just don’t matter. Anybody feel me? All those years I spent worrying if I worked in their classroom enough; if the color of the cupcake icing was okay; whether anybody was going to play with my kids on the playground; was anybody going to make fun of my kid on the playground; all has finally culminated to this one moment of our parenting life that is closing. It still doesn’t keep me from wishing I could get a pair of red ruby slippers, tap the heels together and end right smack dab back at kindergarten round-up. Take.Me.Back. It also brings to mind the years I spent as a high-schooler and the “talks” my dad, aka Big Daddy, always gave to me and my sisters. There were a few years age difference between the three of us, but Daddy never failed to line us up on the couch at the start of a school year and give us “the talk.” Before anyone wigs out that it’s the “birds and the bees” talk, (that would be an absolutely not; not anything remotely close), but somewhere circa 1981, in the living room of 246 Ollie Caples Road, with the orange shag carpet under our feet, Big Daddy gave us the annual “back to school talk.” Now, I contemplated all sorts of columns this month…what fall outfits are trending; what hiking trails to take your kids on in the fall (you know, because we have so many mountains); or what songs to sing around the campfire (because we are all camping out in this 108 degree weather we are having), but instead I decided that there isn’t a more relevant or current topic for our kids these days, than a little parenting reminder, not from me, but from the man himself, Big Daddy.
If memory serves me right, it started something like this…”Sister, here’s a few things I want you to remember over the next few years…” (way back then, high school started in 10th grade if that truly antiquates me), and away he went.
First, remember to always treat others as you would like to be treated…the cardinal rule. We all know society today is laced with bullying and name calling, it’s one of the most sensitive topics in the educational climate. As a gangly, rather unfortunate looking tween, I too, remember the sting of name calling with these size 10 platform shoes I have had since the 6th grade. Treating others with respect and kindness is one thing I want my children to adhere to throughout all of their lives, not just at school. This should actually be a on a t-shirt somewhere, or perhaps wall-papered down the hallway of the schools. But I digress.
Second, always tell the truth. I can’t really expound on that one too much, other than, it’s a principle that follows most of us our entire lives. Plus, it’s a commandment! Honesty is truly the best policy and is something we should practice at any age, right?
Third, stay humble. I have to admit, I had to look that word up as a pre-tenth grader…but I also have to admit, that my dad’s philosophy of being “too big for your britches” might go a long way with some society folks these days. Being humble also lines up with being kind, which really touches each one of these.
Fourth, gossiping makes you no friends, no matter how good it sounds when it’s coming out of your mouth. Plus, we all know how it feels to be “talked about” and it certainly puts things in perspective when we are the ones being “discussed.” I’ve been talked about and in the spirt of transparency, I have also “done the talking.” It’s not something I am proud of either, and I have tried my best to make sure my children understand how hurtful gossiping and talking about others can be.
Finally, always give your best effort at whatever you are doing. It doesn’t matter if it’s your homework, a dance class, a sporting event, a band practice or your friendships. Always let others see your best attempts, even if you don’t always win. We’ve had multiple lessons over the years at not getting something we really wanted, it’s hard to parent through that. And even harder to bounce back and try harder the next time. But life is full of disappointments and we simply fall short sometimes. Pushing through that disappointment is a life lesson we need all of our lives, not just during our school age years.
I know my dad had many other life lessons for me as we navigated those teen years together, and now as I lean on he and my mother to help me co-parent my children (even my grown, married one), I treasure their sage advice even more. I may not have thought my dad knew what he was talking about when he set my curfew at 11:00 p.m. (“nothing good is going on after 10:00 p.m. anyway, so get yourself on home, I don’t care what your other friends parents let their kids do”) but these days, I have come to value my parents input and I hope to impart these same values to my children, not just during their school years, but for the rest of their lives.
Cindy G. Foust is a wife, mom, author and blogger. You can find her blog at the alphabetmom.com for weekly columns about home life, parenting, small business stories and insight with a smidgen of literacy. Give her a like or follow on Facebook and Instagram.