Depending on your part of the country, the new school year is only a matter of days or weeks away.
It’s the season of new action-hero backpacks, freshly sharpened pencils, the aroma of fresh crayons, and the bustling commotion back-to-school open houses.
Parents and students eagerly fill the halls, crowding around the lists hung neatly on the walls to see which class, which friends, which teachers will be part of creating the year ahead.
It’s exciting. Exhilarating. Invigorating.
And also a bit terrifying. As much as hope factors into a new, unseen adventure, so does fear, especially if you are the parent of a child who learns or behaves in a slightly (or obviously) different way. For these parents, it’s often less about seeing if their son’s best friend is in the class as it is about if their son will MAKE a friend in this class. It’s less about did we get the teacher the moms at the grocery store said was the best, and more about will the teacher “get” my daughter, will she be able to see her creativity beneath her blurting out, will she understand that that IS my son’s best work, even if it appears to be hurried and scribbled.
As a parent of a struggling student myself, I know that feeling oh-too-well. As a professional who has had the privilege of ushering in new school years with hundreds of families of unique kids, I’ve shared this crazy mix of hope and caution over many tables and cups of coffee.
Without exception, what almost always happens, is we realize we are holding our breaths. We are almost afraid to dream of all the remarkable possibilities in case they don’t manifest. We are preparing for battles that most of us will never even have to fight. We are holding our breath as we armor up for the unknown.
There is a reason that breathing is a critical part of the labor and birth process. It is through the deep, focused, measured breaths that we move forward into the unknown. It prepares our brains and bodies for what is to come. It slows our heart rates and clears our minds. It allows us to be present in the moment, without interference from past or future.
So during this time of year, when my families are saying, “but what about…. what if…..how will I….”, my response is always the same:
You’ve got this! We’ve got this! We will take it one step at a time. Together we’ll rejoice over surprising victories, deal with frustration, and probably shed a tear or two. You won’t be doing it alone. Let’s not bring forward events of the past, and let’s not anticipate so many things that likely won’t happen.
Let’s JUST breathe! Take it one breath at a time. You’ve got this!