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Challenge: Back to School


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My daughter had a big transition last week. She had her last day at her old preschool, and started attending camp at the school she will attend in the fall. It’s the same school my son has been at the past two years – although he will not be there this fall, as he will transition elsewhere for Kindergarten.

Despite history predicting otherwise, she is doing surprisingly well with it. She is excited to be at school with her brother (who is also her best friend). She feels grown up. She seems in her element, totally at ease in this new space surrounded by new people. She is just generally rocking it in that confident, take-no-prisoners way she has.

Unlike my daughter, this time of transition has been hard for me. Transitions are an uneasy space. They are the spaces in between. Behind us, the old. In front of us, the new. We are in the sidewalk crack – we are with the ants and the moss and the rest of the detritus. We have to figure out how to get out of this in-between space and onto the next square.

With this transition, I find myself lingering in the space between. I can’t help but look back at the square we are leaving behind. It was sad to say goodbye to the families and teachers we have been with for the past two years. It was hard to say goodbye to this place that fosters such a rich environment of wonder and experimentation, of self and of others, of imagination and energy, and of absolute love for my daughter. That square just embodied toddlerhood. It was all hard play and strong emotions. It was messy, in the best possible sense.

The next sidewalk square leaves behind, to some extent, that messiness. Her new school is much more of a school. She will be expected to sit down for longer periods. She will be given worksheets to fill out. She will learn amazing things. But it will be different. And it’s making me realize that the number of sidewalk squares before she turns the corner and disappears around the block – well, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that many.

I know, I know. She’s only three for crying out loud. Maybe it’s the heat. Or maybe it’s just the stilted view from where I am, in the crack. When you’re peering over, you can lose perspective. Once I climb out, we will be fine. We will be back on solid ground. And this next square will be filled with plenty of messiness. It will be filled with sidewalk chalk and bubble splashes and popsicle drips; with skid marks from bicycle tires; with tears and with blood from skinned knees. I will get there, and I will not even notice that crack behind me. I just need a little more space first.

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