Today in my heart (and in locations throughout Texas), several of my dearest littles went back to school. Two of them started Kindergarten, and my heart sighed. If you allow me one weepy moment, these are kids I met before they walked or talked, and when I first heard them utter “Auntie Cam. . . ” it was like my heart was home. I know both that I cannot explain this to you, and that I have no need to; it’s just part of this life that we chased or lovingly stepped in to. This love now defines a part of us.
It’s interesting that in this #auntielife, “Back to School” means something again. I vividly remember thinking in the years immediately following college (pre-Auntie,) how strange it was that the school year, a rhythm that had ruled my life for as long as I could remember, no longer had influence. I thought that I had stepped away from a school calendar-influenced life. It was freeing. . .and a bit scary.
Well fast forward to this year, and I realize that I have once again stepped into a rhythm for the school year. The rhythm is part of being an Auntie to my own dear littles, but also to those in my community, who I want to have their best chance at whatever it is they dream of.
So for those of you new to this #auntielife, or who may need a refresher, here are some things I recommend to prepare for the new school year:
- Prepare the Littles – last week, I did some quick research and sent books to the littles about starting school. Being me, I paid particular attention to how they approached the topic: was it positive? Did it promote a fear? Was there diversity? In general, I look for books that validate our feelings, and promote healthy approaches. Sadly, it takes way more research than it should. I will share a list of those I approve of soon.
- Talk to the Littles – Over the last month, I also made a point to talk to the littles about the upcoming school year. What would they be doing? What were they looking forward to? I think that these questions help the littles recognize how much they already know about something that may seem unknown or scary (especially for those starting a new school or kindergarten.) “You are going to work on letters?! Oh! Well, you already know a lot of those!!”
- Identify volunteer commitments – This year I have made commitments to Communities in Schools and BookSpring. They both work on things that are near and dear to me: mentoring and promoting not just literacy, but a love of reading. I know that it is often tough to start volunteering. Volunteer coordinators are busy! There are set training times! But generally, August and September are the times when many non-profits and programs are set up to receive new volunteers.
- Get out your wallets – Aunties, those fundraisers are coming! We know you need some wrapping paper, coupon booklets, candy, or anything else your little is selling. I am now at the point where I have guidelines for my giving. For example, the little must do the ask (as age appropriate;) For every ask, I give the same amount; and if there is an option to send whatever I am buying to someone else (such as troops, back to the classroom, etc,) I choose that.
- Prepare your calendar – Ok Aunties, let’s put our time where our love is. Go to that recital, game, pageant, back to school night. . .I promise it will mean so much.
And lastly, find something special to do for yourself Aunties. It is a new season, and even if you are here with me in the southern heat (where it seems unimaginable,) Fall WILL come. We may need to treat ourselves to get ready for these recitals, volunteer commitments, and tough talks. I told my goddaughter that I might get a rainbow backpack like hers. “Noooo!! Auntie Cam! You can’t do that.” Well Aunties, maybe not a backpack.