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Be  Here Now: A Teacher's Reflection on the Summer to School Transition

Summer is a wonderful break. My family was able to spend tons of time together this summer and enjoyed various excursions that are tough to pull off during the school year. We spent some time at a cottage, did some camping (on the hottest days of the summer as usual), and even spent some time on Mackinac Island. My boys (ages 7 and 5) and I rocked the Public Museum on several occasions. It was wonderful to spend time together.

The last couple of weeks, though, have had some bumps as my family transitions to the school year. My boys are anxious about starting another year. Although it’s hard for them to put into words, I’m pretty sure they’re thinking that no other teachers could possibly be as awesome as Mrs. Roberts (pre-school), Mrs. Kamper (kindergarten), or Mrs. Groenboom (first grade). The insecurity and uncertainty has made them irritable this past week. Their actions have been crying out for structure and limits. As my former roommate Aaron Kauffman would say: “Structure makes kids feel safe.”

I suppose things for us adults are a bit anxiety producing too. My wife and I have lists of things we feel we should do to be ready for school that may rival Santa’s list in length. I’m excited to be back in the classroom. The eighth grade class (the main grade I teach) is amazing and we have some sweet things we’re trying this year to make it better than ever.

But there’s some anxiety about the unknown for me as well, as evidenced by some fantastic nightmares I’ve had about school.  

Just last night I dreamt it was the first day of school and I didn’t have my “ducks in a row”.

I didn’t have all the papers photocopied.

My new speaker cover was broken in pieces and I couldn’t seem to be able to put them together right. Then I looked down and saw I was wearing shorts. I’m not allowed to teach in shorts, am I??? And these weren’t just any shorts – these are my old jean shorts that I only wear on my grubby fireworks jobs. (You know, the ones I don’t wear in public. The ones I wore on my second date with my wife that, unfortunately, was long after jean shorts went out of style!)

Being an early riser, I was also able to get in a lot of bike rides this summer. About half of the summer mornings I hopped on my bike before my family (and most of Grand Rapids) woke up and cruised down to Kent Trails and Millennium Park to see the world come alive. This morning I found myself growing a bit nostalgic as my opportunities to start the day with a good ride are rapidly coming to a close. I took a few pictures and dictated much of the following into my phone as I hustled to get home before my wife had to leave for her school meetings: 

Morning Reflections on a Bike

Sunshine’s spectrum splashing on a slate grey sky,
the joy of a new day dawning.

Deer standing erect, watch from ahead
then dash to the safety of the trees.

Cricket chorus yielding to songbird symphony,
bunnies darting to the safety of the underbrush.

Secluded in human solitude the prayers pour forth,
the soul sings as the day begins.

Richer than the richest coffee,
salve for the soul, the morning ride.  

 “Be Here Now.”

The subject of a blog of a Yahoo executive I read years ago and have long-since misplaced, but so fitting for this time in our lives. I can enjoy the fond memories of summer experiences and increased time together. I can look forward to an incredible year with a mixture of excitement, anticipation, and even a little trepidation.  

God calls me, though, to “be here now”.

Treasure every moment, every second of the life God has blessed you with.  

 Whether the kids are cranky or the moment is wonderful, be in that moment. Put down the phone, take a break from Facebook or Yahoo News and “be here now” with your family. Bless them with your time and attention and help them feel loved and safe. Don’t fret about the future or the things you want to accomplish and lose the gift of this moment.

 Be. Here. Now.

And when Monday morning comes and you’re taking those pictures of your adorable kids with their new backpacks or school shirts, be in that moment as well.

May God bless you and your family!

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