August-September issue is now online!/Editor’s letter

Leslie Penkunas//August 1, 2019

August-September issue is now online!/Editor’s letter

Leslie Penkunas//August 1, 2019

Read the August-September issue online!

Pick up a copy at a location near you!

Editor’s letter

The first time I sent my son off to school, he was just shy of 3. We’d been living in Birmingham for nine months and the new school year took me by surprise. Suddenly all of my son’s neighborhood friends were gone, enrolled in various morning or all-day preschool programs, while he stayed home with his baby sister and me. By the end of that first week, he was bored and I was exhausted.

One preschool took pity on me and enrolled my son a week later. When I dropped him off for his first day, I put on my happy face. “Don’t upset him with your tears,” I told myself. He scrambled out of my car and as the teacher closed the door behind him, ran off toward the school building.

Wait, what?

I rolled down the passenger window and called out to him. Without breaking his stride or even turning his head to look my way, he lifted his arm for a fleeting wave behind him.

I muttered to his sister — strapped in her rear-facing infant seat — “Well, that was easy.”

And it always has been. While my daughter had a rough go of it when she started preschool a few years later, my son has always plowed forward with little fanfare at the start of each subsequent school year. He enthusiastically climbed out of my car in the preschool drop-off line, then stepped up to the school bus, and most recently, hopped into his car to drive to school.

This year, I might drag my feet and perhaps whine that the new school year has come too soon. It’s his senior year, and it’s come much too quickly. This has been the summer of college visits, senior year pictures, and much planning. I’m already tired and school doesn’t start officially for another month.

In this back-to-school issue, we have features to help you get ready for the new school year. We review the state’s vaccination requirements and back-to-school physicals. We shine a light on keeping kids with food allergies safe at school. We explore common problems that arise within the first month of preschool. And we look at the growing number of homeless students within our region, and how school districts are responding.

Working on these articles, I’ve found my mind wandering to first days of school of years past — and the future. What will things look like a year from now? Will my son be heading off to some campus within a two-hour drive, or will Chicago or Dallas beckon? Will it be his dream college with his preferred major, or will practicalities intervene? And what will his sister do when he’s gone? Since the day she first entered preschool, her big brother has been there to help her navigate her way through the various transitions that accompany each new school year.

Maybe what I worry about most is the moment we are finished moving our son into whatever college he’s chosen. Will there be long hugs and a few tears? Awkward silences and then promises to call or text often? Or will he simply run off, his attention already focused elsewhere? Will he lift his arm — neither turning around nor breaking his stride — to offer a fleeting wave goodbye?

Happy parenting.