Inside SFS

Headspace: The First Month of School

“Let’s remember to give ourselves a break in this first month of school…”

I could hear the seconds ticking away on my office clock. “Just one more email…,” I said to myself. Each tick was one second too long as I was already running late to pick up my son at home. I promised to drive him to his first basketball practice of the season with his new team, and I knew he would be waiting for me at the door. I hustled out of my office, briskly said goodbye to a few folks as I walked (not ran!) through the courtyard, and took off driving a bit too quickly up Sweeny Street. 

My son wasn’t waiting at the door. No, he was actually on the front sidewalk with a classic, “Dad, you are late” look on his face. I reminded myself that taking my child (even all the way across town in rush hour traffic) to practice is a privilege, something to be joyful about. I tried to take in the moment with him – “Tell me about your day,” and “What are you most anticipating about joining this new team?” – but I can’t lie…during our commute, I felt stressed and distracted. 

We reached our destination with no time to spare, and to my surprise, there was a somewhat ominous quiet to the school where the practice was supposed to be held. Only a few cars were parked in front, and there was no sign of other 10-year-olds wearing basketball clothes - or any students for that matter. The front office receptionist looked at me in a confused manner and told me that there was no practice scheduled for that day. So, at that point, I had three choices: 1. Lose my cool (which, for those who know me, is not a common occurrence); 2. Blame Google calendar (simply not satisfying); or 3.  Appreciate the bonus one-on-one time with my son, and realize that he was actually feeling relief that he had one more week of reprieve before he took on this challenge of joining a new team. You might be able to guess which one I chose.

It never fails that back to school logistics usually represent a challenging adjustment for most families. If I had a nickel for each time I heard from a parent, “The summer went so quickly…” I could make a serious dent in contributing to our endowment! All of a sudden, we are entrenched in the craziness of day-to-day scheduling, carpool drop off, sports practices, homework and other activities. As a Head of School, I have the advantage of checking in with many parents on a regular basis, and I am here to tell you, we are mostly all in the same boat when it comes to the grind of back to school logistics. If I am being honest with myself, I think I secretly find some comfort in the fact many of you are occasionally late for a drop off or pick up, miss an appointment or show up someplace on the wrong day or at the wrong time – it helps my wife and me get over our own parenting flops. Did I just admit that? 

I write this opening story of the school year as a reminder to us all: let’s remember to give ourselves a break in this first month of school. Transitions are hard – not only for us, but for our children as well. Eventually, we will get our collective rhythms going and sink into the comfortable ebb and flow of the school year. In the meantime, I encourage you to keep in mind that the fall is the perfect time to take a deep breath, let go of those little frustrations, and truly enjoy those extra moments you get with your kid(s). Before you know it, you will be asking yourself, “Where did the school year go?”

Posted October 03, 2017