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Recess. Why is this "subject" so difficult?

The first week of school. Fun, exciting and difficult. Its about learning more than just academics.

The first couple of weeks back to school around here are NOT FUN. BE WARNED! We are grumpy, emotional, angry, resentful and well, tired. For most, any major life change has a significant emotional impact on us. Many of us adults are in steady jobs. Yet, for our children, their entire world is turned upside down every year. Can you imagine starting a new job every year? I'm overwhelmed with anxiety just thinking about it.

I think as parents we are super excited for our kids to meet their new teacher, find out who's in their class, organize their desk and start learning! But then comes RECESS. For some kids, this is the most difficult "subject" of the day. Schools are a terrific opportunity for youth to figure out who they are and how they fit among their peers which can be fun but not always positive. The playground is a time where some of the not so good features of childhood appear that end up in bullying and other negative behaviors.

Recess is a free for all. Depending on the mood of every child out there, you never know what to expect. For children with intense emotions they are very aware of their surroundings and the decisions of all who they interact with. They overthink every situation and just want to be part of something. But the something is unknown, there are too many choices. Some just want one friend they can count on to be with them, always. These kiddos are very emotionally attached to their "friends". Others can flutter from one friend to another without regret or concern. These disparate behaviors do not match well on the playground. While one child is just carefree and possibly unaware of the feelings of others, some kiddos are so in tune with their emotions they cannot figure out how to get through the moment of change without the one person they thought was their friend.

What happens next is sadness. Crying at home, the sense of not belonging and the overwhelming feeling of being alone. Kiddos are unsure who to connect with and who not to, as they often feel betrayed by those they trusted. As a parent, this is one of the most heartbreaking situations we deal with. Personally, I feel helpless. I want to engage, but my kids need to figure this out on their own. Instead, l provide a listening ear and lots of hugs. Luckily we have a dog that loves to lick away the tears that fall from these innocent cheeks. I can help them navigate other options by asking questions, but I cannot solve this for them. A favorite saying around here is "this too shall pass"...and it will. So I tell my kiddos, "friends will come and go and you will get hurt, this is a guarantee. I did, many times! But, you are strong, you are you and you are amazing. Believe in yourself and be the friend everyone wants to have. Be there for others, be you and know tomorrow is another day, another chance at life and friends. Try, try again and just know, for pain you feel, this too shall pass."

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