To My Children, On School's Starting Eve

Remember that letter I wrote to you when school was letting out for summer, a few months ago?  I gave you all sorts of sage advice and encouragement, told you to have fun and break rules, get sunburned and play too many video games.

 Let’s do an inventory and tally up, shall we?

 You did eat all the food. And so did your dozens of friends. I honestly do not know how you can eat  I cooked a lot of it, but you guys have really found your zone of cooking and being creative in the kitchen. If you actually did dishes, I would love you even more.

 As far as the rule breaking, some of you did it spectacularly and others I may never know about. Thank you for not getting arrested. Technically, not arrested.

 One of you grew so much this summer that the eating food and sleeping in thing was like a full-time job. You know who you are – the one who thought you would NEVER grow – remember? You also played softball for the first time ever, were a total boss on the field and made the traveling team! We sat through every cold and hot game, and I won’t regret a single minute I spent cheering for you.

 One of you played soccer again, had a few rain outs, and even scored a goal or two. You made some new friends and WENT TO CAMP FOR THE FIRST TIME. Dude, that was pretty amazing, don’t you think?

 You, my big kid who is going to be a senior – you worked TWO jobs this summer. You are fulfilling my dream (for you and for me) of working in a restaurant kitchen, and not just any restaurant kitchen. I love my newly sharpened knives and your input on recipes. I am so incredibly proud of how hard you work and what a nice human being you are. Senior year is here and it won’t last long, I promise. You can keep hating school, I get it, but son, you’re doing great.

 My darling oldest girl, what a summer you’ve had. We’ve had. You got your first job, got your driver’s license, took two semesters of higher algebra in 11 weeks and kicked ass. You fought some pretty tough demons and slayed some dragons. I told you I’d never ever give up on you and I’ve had the greatest joy of my life this summer watching you not give up on yourself. I am honored to be your mom and walk this journey with you. And that boy of yours can keep his place at my kitchen counter, no matter what.

 Q: “Who is your favorite child?” A: “Whomever is currently moving out.” Just kidding, mostly. But wow! Another one of you is moving out and moving on in a few short days. Finishing college this year, getting closer to your dream. You’re not my favorite (none of you are), but I am so happy for you and so proud to watch you be this man you’re being. Please come home to eat every Sunday, ok?

 My largest human, you keep showing the other kids how to do it. You’re working so hard, traveling, seeing and doing amazing things, yet you still find time to text food pics to me. Don’t stop that! I’m living vicariously through you. Thank you for prioritizing your family when you can, coming home for dinner and to hang with your siblings. You’ll never know how much it delights us all.

 So let’s start this new season, shall we? Even if you’re not in school, fall is still a time for new beginnings. I still feel it, even though I’ve been out of being a student and then a teacher for many years. You’re all going to have a great year. Keep the good friends you have, and maybe make a new one or three. Look for the kid who seems lost or sad and go say hello. Speak your mind in class. Girls, SPEAK YOUR MIND in class and out of class.

 Monday, we clambake. Tuesday, let’s do this. Together!

Jill Holter