You know how when your kids are young and people say, “Enjoy every minute because it will be over in the blink of an eye!” and you’re thinking, “Well, I don’t want it to end, but seriously I’d welcome a solid eight hours of sleep, no chauffeur duties and food that doesn’t include dinosaur-shaped nuggets and orange pasta.”

Well, I’m there. It certainly wasn’t a blink, but I do believe time has passed exponentially faster as my children have gotten older. My kids are entering their senior year of high school and I have a lot of feelings. There is a lot of processing going on.

In the elementary years I was right there at the bus stop. They were happy to get pictures and excited to be going to see their friends and meet new teachers. I’m pretty sure I thought about following the bus to school the first day, but remembered the school had sent an email specifically saying Don’t follow the bus to school on the first day. I cried when they climbed on the bus and it pulled away. I begged the universe to make sure my kids were happy and safe.

In early middle school I didn’t get much fuss about going to the bus stop and they tolerated my first-day pictures. In late middle school I’m not sure I was allowed to speak to them in the morning, much less be seen at the bus stop. But apparently they still took the obligatory first-day photo because Facebook has it documented. In the middle school years I was thankful when school rolled around — I was craving the return of a schedule and my kids having reason to shower and dress and leave their bedrooms without me providing some kind of outing or entertainment.

The high school years have been nontraditional, with COVID and virtual learning, but regardless, the theme has been a rapid move towards independence. I haven’t been to a bus stop in years and for the last two years my kids have gotten rides or driven to school. My kids mostly hit me up in the morning if they need something signed or gas money. I know better than to ask if they ate breakfast or have something for lunch. Sometimes when I’m at work, I rely on the doorbell camera to watch them get in their cars and start their day. When they leave, I still beg the universe to make sure they are happy and safe.

So whether you are shedding tears as the kids get on the bus this year, celebrating the send-off, or reminiscing about the days when the morning included happy faces and goodbye hugs, I beg the universe to make sure you are happy and safe. The journey is different for each of us but I have to think the fear and trepidation and hopefulness is similar for each of us as we watch our kids grow little by little.

In this issue we look at the challenges elementary kids have had in classroom learning after virtual learning (p. 48), and we explore the evolving debate around whether to take college entrance exams like the SAT (p. 56). Enjoy these stories and more, and here’s to a fantastic school year for all!


Kym Byrnes

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