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The Big Wild World

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

Well.  Here we are…. After Labor Day. Those of you lucky ones who have been holding out for “back to school”—your time has come. Either today or tomorrow, most of the rest of you are heading back to the ringing bells and lockers and buses and homework and new classmates and old friends and uncomfortable not-yet-worn-in shoes and weird lunches and hallway gossip and classrooms that are either way too cold or way too hot. Figuring out the dynamics of recess.  Figuring out the dynamics of lunch time.  Figuring out the dynamics of the hallway. Figuring out why your best friend from yesterday isn’t talking to you today. Figuring out that funny feeling in your stomach when that certain person walks by. Figuring out the new math and all the stinking continents. Wishing your teacher would notice your hand in the air… or wishing they wouldn’t notice your hand not in the air. Wishing the ride to school was shorter… or wishing it was much, much longer.

As it happens, neither of my kids wanted to go to school today. My daughter wasn’t feeling her best, and my son was pouting because of a technology malfunction. Both were “fine,” and so off I sent them. Off into the big wild world, with its big and wild expectations of how we’re supposed to show up.

It’s particularly hard after a three-day weekend.  That doesn’t change for any of us, does it? How many of you would have preferred to just pull the covers back over your head when the alarm went off this morning, rather than face this big wild world and all its expectations?

(I felt that way)

I think too often we forget that kids are little humans. We shuttle them off to school and their extracurricular activities and their homework and their bathtime and their bedtime and forget that, just like us, they have days where the whole thing just feels overwhelming. Where they just don’t want to deal with any of it. No, they might not have mortgages and bills to pay, and they might not be responsible for cleaning the house or doing the laundry, and they may not do the cooking. They may not have to negotiate scheduling or plan upcoming events.

But their world swirls around them in its own way, and their things are no less important than our things. And sometimes we all need a reprieve from this big and wild world. Whether we’re three or one-hundred and three.

It can be easy to dismiss the stressers of our little people, and it can be easy to ship them off to school and then think nothing of all that they are negotiating throughout the day, worrying instead about all that fills our own—the reports, meetings, errands, to-dos.  We see getting them to school as something to check off of OUR list, instead of remembering that we are actually hurtling them into a day filled up with their own lists.

So whether today was their first day of school or their second month of school. Whether they are with a nanny or starting high school. Today let’s honor that this big and wild world comes after all of us in its own way… and let’s try to remember to hold space for that with each other.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always like to talk about my day. But I always love to feel acknowledged that I’ve had a day. And somedays, I do just need to pull the covers back over my head… even if the thermometer doesn’t validate any good “reason” to do so.

Our kids are no different.

How can you honor the big wild world that we all are navigating, every day?

Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.