First Week of School
Read on Minnesota Public Radio, September
By Nanci Olesen
Okay we made it.
We have made it, we thinly
smiling parents of preschoolers, gradeschoolers,
We’ve made it through the beginning
days of the school year. It has begun.
have to be up early. We have to think
clearly on school nights. Did everybody
make their lunch? Who goes where when tomorrow?
Who picks up who from what when? Who will
be home when the youngest walks in the
My kids are 9, 10 and 14. Their shoes
all fit, their new clothes look good enough,
and I am the picture of stability as they
march out the door in the morning. This
school year I am going to get enough sleep
and stay in good enough shape so that I
don’t get ragged and mean spirited
as I balance my own work day with their
school day. I will fill the car with gas
before the empty light comes on. I am going
to turn permission slips in on time and
make notes of who goes on what field trips
when. I will support my son’s new
life in high school but I won’t ask
him too many questions, even though it
totally freaks me out that I have a son
in HIGH SCHOOL.
I will buy groceries at
the beginning of every week so that dinners
easy and economical. We will eat together
and discuss our lives in a civilized manner.
They will help with household tasks and
their rooms will stay clean. They will
get their homework done on time. My husband
and I will have good communication about
who goes where when so that we don’t
build up walls of resentment that manifest
themselves in biting little comments as
we try to balance the needs of our coworkers,
ourselves, and our children from day to
day. We won’t have weekends filled
with too many things so that we are running
frantically from birthday parties to piano
lessons to family gatherings.
the long and enthusiastic days of September,
when everything seems possible.
Last year at this time I put out a quote
every day, written on an index card, at
our kitchen table. “Nothing is ours
except time” read one. “We
have so little time, we must proceed very
slowly.” That was Buddha. By October,
I quit writing out quotes. I was just trying
to keep up with everybody and everything.
But you know this topic, this “I’m
trying to stay balanced and not too busy
topic?” It is the NUMBER ONE thing
that the friends I have that are parents
talk about. Like the very first sigh of
the conversation is always... “well,
we’re trying to do a few less things
this year, and we’re all trying to
stay balanced and I really want my kids
to not feel frantic...”
So this year
I’ll try again, without
the quotes. I’m just gonna try to
live it. I’m going to try to stay
organized and kind and interested. I’m
going to keep myself together and look
people in the eye and have at it. I’m
going to live in the present but keep track
of what’s going on in the future.
I’m going to wish my kids and myself
well every morning. Another school year. Here we go.
producer and host, MOMbo: 1990-2007