By Cheryl Demas
It's back-to-school time -- the time of year when our true parenting attitudes emerge.

I see two extremes.
It's either: "They grow up too fast" or, "Will they ever grow up?"

When I was younger, I thought all parents dreaded the first day of school.

Then I met a woman who had five children. The day her youngest child finally stepped onto the school bus, this mom was standing on the sidewalk waving good-bye with one hand and holding a drink in the other. The other mothers were drying their eyes, she was downing dry martinis.

Some parents have a quick wave good-bye and walk away; others record every moment. One family I know followed their son's school bus in their van and recorded the entire ride with their video camera. From boarding to arriving at school, they had footage of the back of the bus for the whole trip. (Note to self - avoid home movies at their house).

I'll never forget my oldest daughter's first day of kindergarten, standing there with the other parents as our kids lined up for their first day of school. Some of those parents were crying, some were thrilled, I was nervous. We parents were instructed to write our child's name on his or her name tag and below that write how our child would get home from school that day.

I wrote out Nicki's nametag, and the children lined up. I noticed her classmates' nametags:



Then my daughter's:

Nicole (Nicki) Demas
My mom (Cheryl Demas)
will drive me home
in our family car.
She will pick me up
in the south parking lot
after school.

I almost needed two nametags to fit it all in. Once I realized what I had done, I was worried. My poor daughter. Would the other children make fun of her? Was it too late to change her tag? I started out in search of another blank nametag, and my husband had to drag me away.

"Just let her go, Cheryl."

Now all of a sudden my daughter is old enough to drive, and I'm still nervous. I know it won't be much longer and she'll be off to college. I find I'm telling myself almost every day now,

"Just let her go, Cheryl."

When Nicki was little, I was always looking ahead to the next milestone. I tracked her progress in baby books and growth charts, always anticipating what she would be doing next. Rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking. Now that I have the perspective of how quickly my oldest daughter grew up, I'm not nearly as eager to push my youngest along. I'm happy to give her time to grow at her own pace. She'll go back to school next week, and I will miss her. I wish we could have a few more leisurely summer days together, with no schedule and no alarm clocks, making fruit smoothies and catching butterflies. But she has things to learn and new friends to meet. She will be fine and I am a little less nervous each year.

But it just went by so fast.

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