Mixed Emotions | Kids VT | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published August 27, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.

Alison's daughter, Mira, on her first day of kindergarten in 2012. - ALISON NOVAK
  • Alison Novak
  • Alison's daughter, Mira, on her first day of kindergarten in 2012.

Stumble down the internet rabbit hole this time of year, and you'll find competing narratives about how parents feel after sending their kids back to school. On one hand, you have viral photos of ecstatic moms (because it's always moms) giving each other high fives in their bathrobes, or enjoying a fancy lunch out while clinking wine glasses together, celebrating the occasion like it's a par-tay. On the other, you'll find plenty of teary blog posts lamenting the fleeting years of childhood and the inexorable passage of time.

Neither of these depictions fully rings true to me. As a mom to a rising fourth grader and seventh grader, I've found that the first day of school comes with a wide range of feelings. As I watch my kids' backpacks recede into the distance year after year, there's always a witches' brew of emotions that swirls inside of me. Pride, sadness, excitement, worry, delight, emptiness, gratitude, nostalgia, affection and hope — I feel them all, plus other things I can't even put into words. Which makes sense because, as writer Anne Lamott so deftly puts it, "There really are places in the heart you don't even know exist until you love a child."

At Kids VT, we mark this emotional time with our September Back to School Issue. Contributing editor Mary Ann Lickteig writes about Vermont's last one-room schoolhouse, the Elmore School, where students in first through third grade learn together and observe sweet traditions like painting the colors of Elmore Mountain every fall and making paper hearts to decorate the post office boxes at the Elmore Store on Valentine's Day.

I write about a Burlington-based chair company started by a former surgeon that's trying to revolutionize sitting in school with its ButtOn Chair, an adjustable plywood stool that allows for rocking in all directions. And in "Use Your Words," Randolph Union High School principal T. Elijah Hawkes shares his vision for how schools can engage students in meaningful and relevant work to help their communities and the greater world.

We've also included lots of fun articles, like a photo collage of little libraries around the state, a piece on a chicken club for kids in Monkton and a recipe for yummy madeleines — a back-to-school treat in France.

We know September is a busy time for families, and we hope our articles and calendar of events help make parenting a little easier for you. Whether your child is a first grader or a freshman, we hope it's a great school year.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.