Back to School

Dear MotionWorks Family,

It’s that time of year again! Back to school is here, and based on all of the photos already on Facebook, the tears are already flowing! Are your kids or grandkids excited, nervous, or a little bit of both? Or maybe they are like my son, whose bright eyes describing his brand new Badger backpack belies his refusal to acknowledge that he is looking forward to his first day back at school.

The passage of time hit me hard this summer as I sat with my 10 year old at one of our family’s favorite restaurant in Door County, Wild Tomato. A new table just to my left was being seated with a mom and dad, and two toddler aged boys. As they tried to balance wrangling their toddlers into their seats, grabbing a menu, and ordering beverages, my mind went back to those days in our family. Amusing three kids five and under until the food came, while ordering and attempting an adult conversation with your husband was the definition of impossible. It would be that first dinner on your family vacation that you would look at your husband and acknowledge that this would not actually be a vacation for the two of you, not with all of the kids in tow. And they probably were too young to even remember it. Oh well, you would shrug your shoulders while your husband took another sip of beer.

Not surprisingly, it was no different for this young family. I recognized the huge sighs from the mom as she began to analyze the menu. I could totally imagine the stress of getting home from work, packing for a family of four for a long weekend away, recalling all of the items you forgot to pack while on the way to your destination, and the sheer exhaustion by the time you sat down to eat dinner. Ten minutes later, this mom slapped herself on the forehead as she realized that she had ordered pizza for all plus kids meals for the kids, plus appetizers just to keep the kids occupied that the kids refused to eat because they didn’t like it. Soon they would have enough food coming to their table to last their entire weekend in Door County! I chuckled to myself and thought, been there, done that, and this too shall pass.

I glanced over at McKenzie, and even she recognized the chaos that was occurring at the table next door. I reminded McKenzie that just 5 years ago, that was she and her siblings refusing to behave in a restaurant despite our best efforts. Even if we chose the noisiest of restaurants at which to dine, our kids still stuck out as we shushed them back down to indoor voices, separated them from touching each other, and tried to catch random items launched from our table (and that was just last week!). Of course McKenzie didn’t remember. It was amazing how long ago it seemed, yet by doing the math, that could have only been, what, three years ago that we mostly grew out of that stage?

I laughed and tried to engage the rambunctious toddlers and was rewarded with an amazing snake story. The toddler’s eyes lit up as he told the story of this snake that showed up in his yard that he really loved but  totally freaked out his mom. Our table’s check had arrived and it was time to leave. I asked him if he had any pets? No, he didn’t have any. I playfully recommended that maybe he wanted a snake, much to the chagrin of his mom. No, check that, maybe you just want a dog- dogs are great!

So this is our week. Dropping off a sixth grader and third grader at school and teaching a first grader at home. Such wonderful ages I am thoroughly enjoying. While I might be coasting now, I have been warned by parents of older kids about what may lie ahead. But instead of worrying, I’ve learned to appreciate the view right now. The thrill, enchantment, and helpfulness of my children in this very moment. Their penchant for life and love of learning, making friends, and participating in activities that give them the opportunity to grow that much taller than they already are.

The seeds were planted years ago, now all I need to do is weed and water, add in a trellis for support here or there, and in a few more years, become amazed at the young adults they’ve become as I hold back my tears and say one last goodbye outside a college dormitory and take that very last back to school Facebook picture. Time surely does fly, as I glance through my Facebook feed, watching my nieces and nephews waving goodbye. It reminds me to count my blessings each and every day between now and then, and never pass up a moment to grant sage advice or teach a new skill to prepare my kids for the inevitable that lies ahead.

Teaching, learning, & growing,
Dr. Jill Murphy
Owner/Physical Therapist
MotionWorks Physical Therapy