This time of year is always sentimental to me. Personally, it stirs bittersweet emotions. As a kid, though–and even more so as a teen–there wasn’t any bitter, only sweet. That changed after becoming a parent.
When kids are in grade school, there’s always a special teacher that will not be returning the next year, or a final “good-bye” to a special friend that is moving away on that last day of school when the walls are stripped clean of artwork. As a parent, we know they will miss their friend but it is a relief that kids do not fully grasp the finality that they are saying “good-bye” for the last time to their friend. By the time August rolls around, kids at that age are thrilled with the new clothes and school supplies that they smoothly transition into their new grade and form new friendships easily.
Middle school is probably the least stressful of all since kids are no longer kids, really. They are capable of handling all sorts of situations on their own. They haven’t reached upper school yet with the importance of GPA, course selection, or their first boyfriend/girlfriend, and the demands of college seem so far away.
Upper school can be tougher than middle school. By the time summer comes around at this stage, it is more sweet than bitter since the rigors and importance placed on academics that can be crushing have been lifted. The physical demands of playing sports year-round have been grueling, but before summer training begins, there’s some time to stay up late and spend long nights hanging out and making lifelong memories with friends. The senior year, though, is a different animal. By this time, the GPA is set in stone and the college search can no longer be ignored or delayed.
During the senior year, very often, there will be a college rejection that will sting, but in the end, most college freshmen grow to love the college that loved them. This time, though, kids are no longer kids and know the finality of that last day of school and saying “good-bye” to their best friend that they might never see again. I hope that regardless of age, every kid has a great summer and finds their sweet spot, leaving the emotions for when they become parents.