First Day Packets, Again

It’s that time of year again. First-day homework for parents. I swear, it’s like giving birth—every start to the school year I remark how I can’t believe it’s so busy. Every year. I have been a parent for many, many years, so I can only blame myself for the fact that I seem to ice the truth from my brain annually.

What’s the big deal? I don’t even know. I hate filling out the bottomless first-day packets for sure, but that shouldn’t be enough to stress me out—it does seem unnecessary in this digital day and age. It’s not just the packets. It’s also the volunteer requests, the donation requests, the back-to-school clothes shopping and then school-supply shopping. Oh and let’s not forget the first day haircut, the last-minute visit to the dentist…yadda yadda yadda. Each one is a small task, but together? Sometimes it seems insurmountable and completely overwhelming.

Of course, it’s worse for the kids. They are actually going back to school—their party is over. Still, I make room for my own pity party. It’s short—and petty—but nonetheless real. And I’m one of those moms who does the volunteering, shopping, fundraising and donating and have done forever; so you’d think maybe I enjoyed it. I do—just after the year has actually gotten underway. When programs are in place; when the “school drawer” is organized and full; when my calendar has all my meetings noted and when the kids are gone in the day and home in the evening.

This year, I know what I have in store. My daughter is a senior in high school. That means hard classes, lots of homework, lots of stress and probably lots of loud outbursts. Oh, and college applications. Yeah, that.

Senior year.

Those two words just catapulted me into high stress, “where’s the wine” mode. Just kidding—I was already there. Yesterday we were running around getting signatures for a class change and today Kylie was working on her counselor’s packet. This is basically a self-evaluation and self-descriptor that you give to your high school counselor to write a recommendation for you. Good idea, in theory, but the counselor who actually knew her and had some context left this summer and Kylie hasn’t even met her new one. So basically she needs to write her own letter of recommendation, and bragging can be damn hard when you’ve always been taught not to boast.

Next, she will be starting on the Common App and writing essay upon essay. These may all seem like small hurdles to jump but they can feel ginormous. If they feel overwhelming to me, imagine what the kids who are knee-deep in it feel. Our seniors are on the brink of making some of the biggest decisions in their lives, and for a lot of us it feels like this came way sooner than expected. They are excited, they are nervous, they are uncertain and they are emotional. They are going to feel overwhelmed, sad, lonely and incredibly exhausted at times. Other times overjoyed, calm, happy and sociable. Senioritis is going to hit. We parents need to ensure it doesn’t take aim and fire until AFTER the exams are done and college applications turned in.

Senior year requires our kids to do a lot of growing up. I guess the least I can do is fill out the damn first-day packet without complaining.

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