Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Grab Your Butterfly Net!

I have many teacher friends, and even more mom friends, who are buzzing about the same thing right now: back to school season.

I remember anticipating the start of school when I was a kid. I enjoyed school for the most part. (Except for junior high. I mean, no one really liked junior high, did they?) I was a high achiever, involved in activities, and had a good core group of friends. And yet, despite all the good feelings I harbored for school, the start of the year always loaded my stomach with butterflies. What if I hated my teachers? What if my classes were too hard? What if I had to sit next to someone I didn’t like? What if I didn't have any classes with any of my friends? What if this was the year I finally passed out in front of my entire class during the Presidential Fitness Exams?

I feel those same emotions now on behalf of my children. Will their homework be overwhelming? Will their teachers be understanding? Will their friends be kind and true? What if they get picked on? Teased? Bullied? What if they aren’t on the bus when it comes by our house in the afternoon?

Okay, maybe these aren’t exactly the same emotions. But the trepidation is still there. That’s always the case when we start something new.

And yet, not new. Let’s face it, after the first week or two, it will be as if they never left school, as if the past eleven weeks of no schedules, constant playing, and trips to the zoo/beach/park were a glorious dream. Everything will be back to “normal.” We’ll get back into the groove, establish our momentum, and coast through the year as if summer never happened.

Isn’t this true when we start anything new? Whether it’s a new job, a new exercise regime, moving to a new city, or starting a new project. First there are the butterflies. Will I be good enough? What if I hate it there? What if my idea is really stupid? What if I fail?

But we start anyway, because we’ve made that commitment (to our new boss, the seller of our house, ourselves). And yes, the first day can be awkward and uncertain and fraught with anxiety. But the next day is better. Better still the day after that. And before we know it, the new routine is just as routine as the old one, but at a new level. We’re improved and enlightened just for having gone through the process.

Happy Fall, folks. I hope the new beginnings that await you this season prove energizing and fulfilling. Just grab your butterfly net and embrace the experience.

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