so, September

School starts tomorrow and I have mixed feelings about it. Mostly, I'm relieved that we'll be back in a regular routine but the start of the new school year means they and I are another year older and life is going too quickly and all that stuff.

It's the last year of elementary school for Daniel. 5th grade! He has to wear deodorant. He grew two inches over the summer and comes up to my nose now, when he stands up straight. He's asking for a phone (the answer is no.) He wants a YouTube account (the answer is NO.) He doesn't hear me when it's time to stop playing computer games, but he still gets totally excited about playing putt putt golf (we've made it a tradition to putt putt and go out for ice cream the last day of summer vacation) and needs a good night kiss.

Anya starts 3rd grade tomorrow and she's nervous. 3rd grade is when everyone gets more social, and she is shy so I am nervous for her. She's in a class of other smart, sensitive kids and she's got a cracker jack teacher, so I'm not really worried about her.

I think one of the hardest things about parenting so far is coming to the realization that you can't be responsible for your kids' happiness. You can provide a stable, secure home. You can enforce routine and set the standards for good habits. You can be the one they complain to, cling to, push away, puke on, demand snacks from, play endless games with, but you can't BE them. You can't fix their emotions or solve their problems or take away their pain. You can just be the buffer and gently steer them in what you hope is the right direction.

My mom told me the other day that worrying doesn't do any good, so I might as well stop. Worry doesn't change anything for the better or fix anything. Stop worrying and just take things as they come. It's good advice. I'm trying to follow it. Worry is a part of modern parenting that I actively have to work against, though. It's hard.

Today I was trying to remember what it was like going back to school when I was a kid. I remember being excited about back to school shopping. New clothes, new pencils, that stuff was exciting. I don't remember if there was a lot of fanfare otherwise. I think we just went to school without a whole lot of fuss. My mom took pictures the first day of kindergarten, but that might have been it. Or I just don't remember. Who knows.)

I think there is a danger in being so completely invested in your children that you can't distance yourself from them when they need it. We've spent SO much time together this summer, my kids and I. It's not unhealthy, but I think structured time spent away from each other will be a good thing for all of us.


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