This week signaled the end of the school year for most of the kids in our area. It was an ending that no one would have predicted months ago when the school year started. Our 6th grader started his final year of elementary school looking forward to all the traditions he had witnessed from Kinder – 5th, including Memory Night, the last day student teacher volleyball tournament and Clap Out. The Clap Out was the only thing we were able to salvage with a class car parade through the parking lot. We had balloons, signs and played the song “Hey Look Ma I Made It” on repeat as we waved at the teachers, many who have become friends over the years. As we drove out of the parking lot for the last time with our student, there were tears in our eyes. Three months of quarantine created a gap, it is not the same feeling it would have been if we had continued through the last day of school, but it was closure on a significant part of all our lives.
I’ve been thinking about the word transition a lot lately. In parenting we talk a lot about toddler transitions, because it is at that age where major meltdowns happen when we move from one activity to another. Toddlers have a difficult time because they live entirely in the current moment. If they are playing with toys, that is all they are thinking of. They are not thinking about “the future” when they have to eat, nap or take a bath. When someone disrupts what they are doing it is very jarring resulting in very visible, and often very noisy, meltdown. A toddler meltdown is visible, so we look for solutions. Parents want to know; how do we fix it? There are podcasts, books and articles on how to ease the transition for your toddler. If you are lucky the methods work, and the meltdowns minimize.
Once the meltdowns end, we think a little less about transitions. As our children grow, the emotions of transitions don’t go away, they get more complicated. The end of the school year signals a transition. We usually use school activities to guide us in closing one chapter and getting ready for the next. However, without these traditions as a guide, the school year feels incomplete.
We need to help our kids (and ourselves) through this difficult time of transition. They may not be able to verbalize it, but they are grieving their missed school activities. They are missing their friends. They are listening to the news, usually through social media, about the virus, politics, and social injustice. These emotions are surfacing through more mature melt downs over screen time, chores, and seemingly unrelated events.
Transitions, by definition, are times of change. Our job as parents is to guide our children through these changes the best way we know how. We don’t have to have the answers, but we must be open to listen to their thoughts and create a safe space to discuss their worries and fears.
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Photo by Louis Renaudineau on Unsplash
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.