Spring break. Every year it comes just in the nick of time! It's April and we're a bit tired. The culmination of a year's worth of work is staring us down. Activities are going full force and summer planning is looming. It's enough to send me into hiding to binge-watch Downton Abbey and drink Diet Coke. How do we possibly maintain the level of production and enthusiasm needed to get our families safely to summer? Really...how?
The other day, Michael and I were merging calendars - three schools, project and test schedules, all the extra activities, deadlines - and I was complaining. Then, like a little nudge from a higher power, a more important question demanded attention: what about them? The ones actually doing all the work, juggling demands that they might not have even asked for? What about our kids?
As much as we feel the pressure of pending science projects and research papers, they feel it double. As much as we worry about sports qualifiers, semifinals, championships, they lose sleep about it. As much as we are aware of each A-teetering-on-a-B and how critical the upcoming tests are, they are hyperaware.
Because our kids, usually by middle school and definitely by high school, are living through each of these challenges, growing in knowledge and self-awareness, striving to become the productive people we envision, hoping to measure up. And along the way, they are recording their performance and gauging their worth. Sometimes the barometer lies within their peer group or team. Sometimes it's a sense of passion from within. Sometimes it's us. They witness our worry. They hear each criticizing inquiry. They feel our, "How was the test?" and "Did you do your best?" and the pressure compounds under all of the mounting expectations.
Setting goals and communicating expectations is part of the job we all signed up for when we decided to be parents. But too often, we forget that the parent-child relationship is meant to be more than a nagging system of checks and balances.
So let's make sure, as we stagger toward the school-year finish line, that there's plenty of encouragement and perspective and understanding and balance and support and love to help them finish strong. Let's assure them, with words and actions, that they are so much more than the sum total of how they perform. Because pretty soon, our chance to do so will be over. Our kids will be out of the house trying to make it in a world that unleashes criticism and judgment relentlessly, and I promise you, they'll not remember the team they beat this season or the grade they got in Geometry. They'll remember how we made them feel about themselves regardless of it all.
I know we're tired and ready for a longer break than the one we just finished, but let's not lose focus. This is our legacy. Make it really count.