Back-to-school time is surrounded with joys and anxieties. Both children and parents have a mixed bag of feelings. I know I did, anxiety being my biggest emotion. I expressed it with tears for the first three years, but later I learned to keep the tears from showing. That nagging lump in my throat and rumble in my tummy continued throughout my school years and on into my thirty-five years of teaching. The fear of the unknown is common. Also being afraid of what you do know is a problem, such as giving up summer freedom, going all day without being with your mom, and sometimes it is fear of what other children say to you.
I had a note from a mom asking me to make the other students quit calling her daughter “squirrel.” (The girl was in the tenth grade – really old enough to handle problems like this on her own.) My temptation was to send a note back saying, “My superintendent Doodle Bug said for her to shake it off and get over it.” And that’s REALLY his nickname.
One child was excited when she got home from her first day and commented, “I ate everything in my lunch box (which was a miracle within itself for this picky eater).”
“Did you miss me?” her mom asked.
“A little but I had so much fun I almost forgot about you.” Then, the mother probably cried.
Another little girl told her mom on the first day, “If it’s not too hard, I’ll go back tomorrow.” When she got home, she told her mom, “It wasn’t hard at all, so I’m going back.”
Kindergarten and first-grade teachers must hear everything. One child kept confusing her teacher’s name. Her name is Mrs. Rainwater, but the child calls her Mrs. Raindrop. I think that one will stick.
Sometimes the frustrations come from the parents. Maybe the funniest story came from a 5th grade boy. After waiting in a 3-mile car line for thirty-five minutes to drop off her son on the first day of school, he comforted her. “Mom, I’m proud of you this morning; you didn’t even cry. You’re getting better at this, (he hesitated and then added) but you sure have cussed a lot.”
Because of the fears and anxieties, in addition to the dangers from outside these days, we all need to pray for the safety and peace for students, as well as for the staff. We can also help children (and ourselves) by arming them with appropriate scriptures:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phil. 4:6
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalms 139:23
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deut. 1:21
So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:31