Opinion

EDITOR'S COLUMN | School year begins for students, parents

Parents across Whidbey Island waved goodbye to their children yesterday as they headed out for the first day of school.

For some, it was a new and perhaps worrisome experience. Sure, they look cute with their little Spiderman or Dora the Explorer backpacks, but how will they do? Will they make friends? What about their teacher?

For a first-time parent who is watching their child embark on a new chapter in life, there are a lot of questions.

For me, it’s familiar territory. My 12-year-old entered seventh grade and he long ago traded in his superhero-themed backpacks for cool-kid clothes and a bad haircut.

Pleas for Legos and action figures have been replaced with requests for an iPhone, video games and credits for his Kindle, most of which are thankfully spent on digital books.

Our back-to-school preparations were the usual – purchasing new clothes, supplies and discussing academic expectations.

We did break from routine in one way, however. This year we had a serious conversation about drugs, specifically the dangers of students sharing prescription medication.

Common and easy to acquire, these are legal but deadly killers if used incorrectly. The consequences of such abuse are chilling and we drove the message home. If it’s not from a vending machine or the cafeteria, don’t eat it.

Please.

This wasn’t something we brooded about in the days of Spiderman backpacks; discussions like these seemed so far away.

Well, time flies and it’s now clear that parents never really stop worrying – old fears just make way for new ones. I guess it’s all part of loving your kids.

But school isn’t doom, gloom and scary things. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Along with acquiring an education — knowledge that will shape and guide their destinies —  school is where young adults come of age.

In those awesome and terrible years they experience the beauty of first love and the hurt of a broken heart; triumph and defeat in sports or clubs; friendship and betrayal.

They learn about dedication, responsibility and the consequence of hard work, be it success or failure.

These are indelible lessons of youth and adulthood, and some will be remembered fondly, others with sadness or regret.

Be happy for your children, for Tuesday was more than a first day back to school. It was the beginning of the next chapter in the first great adventure of their lives.

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