The days are long but the years are short


And so it started off like every other year, except last of course. The kids woke up a little later, even Maria did not set her alarm until 7 AM. In past years, she has gotten up as early as 4:30 in the morning to get her self prepped and ready. She’s over that this year being an upper class junior…. Mario surprised me and was ready before Maria. He acts like he doesn’t care but we know he does. At least for the first day of school. By next week, he will be sleeping in until 7:40, throwing on a pair of shorts and t-shirt, and be out of the house by 7:55 to arrive at school right at 8 am. 

Maria has been looking forward to the first day of school since she got out of her last day of school as a sophomore. She absolutely loves to be in the school building, with her friends, learning, talking to teachers. I think she also likes the set routine and regimen. For some people, going to the store to buy new clothes is what gets them excited. For Maria, it is going to the store to get a whole new set of school supplies for the beginning of the year! Mario, to the contrary, has been dreading the start of school since he got out of his seventh grade year. He readily admits that seventh grade was a piece of cake due to most of it being spent online in his PJs (and playing video games on the side while choir was being held). He waited until the last minute to purchase his one supply needed for school – calculator – to which he saw the price and said “we could buy me a new keyboard for this amount – do I really need a calculator?”

Maria is taking five AP classes this year because colleges look for rigorous classes in your junior year. She has watched hundreds of videos about this and as soon as Jon and I try to talk with her about scaling it down, she zips the conversation up. These decisions are hard for a parent. On the one hand you want your daughter to challenge herself and take rigorous courses. On the other hand, you don’t want your daughter to be anxious and overwhelmed with too much on her plate. Jon and I decided to allow her to take the courses after much advocacy on her behalf at the dinner table. She does have three weeks to be able to drop one but I am positive that she will not start to feel the stress until after that period of time. In the end, Jon and I felt that she’s a junior in HS and should have the right to make her own decisions after weighing our input. I may live to regret the decision to not put the kabash on all of those AP classes two months from now but I am hoping for the best. I’ve got to believe letting her make the ultimate decision will provide valuable lessons one way or the other:)

Mario readily admits that this year is going to be difficult for two reasons: he actually has to sit in school for seven hours a day, and he has much more rigorous classes than last year. His history teacher is known to be strict and require a lot of online reading. His algebra teacher gives a lot of homework as well. I am going to have to be glued to the school website to make sure he is keeping up with assignments. I am trying to have some fun with it all and re-learn US history and algebra. God knows I’ve forgotten nearly everything I learned from eighth grade so it will be fun to re-educate myself (or so I think at this point in time but two months in, I am sure I will feel differently)! 

Maria could not wait to be able to drive to school every day. I had some real heart palpitations because I am such a strong believer in getting up and moving your body in the morning. I think a walk to school opens up the mind and gets her ready for the day. That being said, I am a sucker, and let her drive. If she hadn’t been looking forward to driving her junior year ever since she was six years old, I may have came to a different decision. She refused to drive her brother, however, which was going to make me reconsider. Mario, though, didn’t seem too irritated by her decision. He wanted to bike so that he could easily get home for lunch every day. 

I posted their first day of school pictures on Facebook – I have only posted one or two pictures since Covid hit. As I stared at them on the top of the steps I couldn’t believe that he was going into eighth grade and she was only two years away from graduating high school. It is so cliché-ish, but it is so true – the days are long but the years are short. I ached to have them back to their toddler years. The only thing I could do was go back to my photo memories and look at pictures of them as little tykes. I found a picture of the two of them from the first day of school when Mario was in kindergarten and Maria in third grade. I put the pictures side-by-side and looked at them throughout the day. Little humans have turned into big humans. The nervousness of starting school has gone to the wayside and they are now used to the routine every August.  They have every ability to get to school on their own and don’t need me to walk with them and hold their hands. I know that’s a sign of good parenting – they are confident and self-reliant – but boy do I miss holding those little hands in mine.

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