Never easy to say good-bye

For parents of students at the elementary or secondary level, Tuesday marked the first day of school for their children. Bus schedules will have been checked, packsacks bought along with pens, pencils erasers and more. Most parents are ready to celebrate the beginning of the school year.
For those sending children off to school for the first time, they get to share the same worries that parents face when their students trundle off to Grade 9, and then fly off to college and university.
High-school students received their first brush with classrooms last week as they picked up course schedules over the week.
Grade 9 students, too, are facing some big hurdles. Coming together from across the district, they will be meeting many new students and making many new and long lasting friends.
And the pressure to be seen not as a Grade 9 student but as a mature student is really daunting.
Many hours will have been spent by parents and Grade 9 students on what to wear; the binders to buy and other school materials so that no one looks out of place. And by the end of the first week, all will be forgotten, and everyone will be back into a routine.
Parents with university and college bound students face different tasks. Many parents will begin loading up their vehicles to transport their sons and daughters off to schools across Canada.
Labour Day often used to be referred to as the weekend that everyone began closing up their cottages. Now it is the weekend that sends tens of thousands of parents and students onto the highways.
It is a trip fraught with both excitement for the student and trepidation for the parent. Students are anxious to discover the freedom of being on their own, and the excitement of a new community and meeting new friends.
And those freshmen face many of the same challenges as ninth graders. What clothes do I take? What kind of computer should I buy? What other things should I take to put up in my dorm room, so that it feels like home?
Parents are worried about leaving their children in a strange community alone with thousands of strangers. And the parents wonder: How am I going to get all of my child’s possessions into my vehicle to take off to school?
As a parent with now only one child away at school, I discovered Sunday when we dropped him off at the airport in Thunder Bay, heading into his third year of university, that I still felt some of the same worries that I experienced when he was only four heading for JK.
Each year, I think that saying good-bye to him in the fall will be easier than the year before. And every year, I find myself wrong.
Even though we smiled and made light of the coming year, his mother and I both bolted for the airport doors as quickly as we could after we’d given him a hug and said good-bye—lest we shed a tear.
When he was four and placed on the bus off to JK, I didn’t pause too long to wave him good-bye. Then, I was worried that he might not really want to get on the bus.
On Sunday, he seemed none too emotional about leaving home joking that we wouldn’t have to start worrying about him for four months. He was ready to go back to school.

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