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Parenting

The End of a School Year Reminds Me of an 80s Cassette Tape Player

As parents, we have no choice but to press record, but as we look back, it always seems as though we fast-forwarded through an entire year.

The End of a School Year Reminds Me of an 80s Cassette Tape Player

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As my children grow, the speed with which time passes reminds me of the brown 1980s Fisher Price tape recorder—you know which one I mean. As parents, we have no choice but to press record, but as we look back, it always seems as though we fast-forwarded through an entire year.

Remember last September when you had a photo shoot with your kiddos holding that first day of school sign? Maybe they smiled eagerly, ready to press play on another year. Or perhaps they pouted because the days spent swimming at the neighborhood pool from morning til dusk were over. Sometimes, we want to rewind—to bring back a bit of the past.

Nonetheless, we took a photo, and that day feels like yesterday and last year all at once. When we pack their lunches and prep their bags that first day in September, a whole school year lies ahead—and we can’t yet foresee who they will become. June feels like an eternity away—but it’s only an illusion.

We press record because that’s our only choice.

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Experiencing growth

A new teacher and a different group of children become their school family. Over many months, they’ll advance in math and language arts and complete projects that get them thinking about the world and their future. Another year means another season on the soccer field and continued orchestra lessons and concerts. It means they’ll outgrow another closet full of clothes and they might decide to place their cherished stuffed animal on the shelf—or to part with it altogether.

Each day feels like a marathon. Some days are wonderful—they bring home an award they won for being kind to a friend. We turn up the volume on their childhood as we celebrate the person they’re becoming. Other days are a struggle—they feel like the only one not included at recess. So, we turn the volume down because we want to protect them from the burden of heavy feelings.

But each day, we get out of bed, make our coffee, and we’re the first to greet them as they prepare to learn. We’re the last to hug them before saying goodnight and while it may feel monotonous to us, that repetition is what they’ll remember most. Each day cumulatively forms a big picture, and the smaller details slip from their memories. The less important monotony is ejected without thought.

Our children grow a bit each week, physically and cognitively. And through nine months of daily marathons, we find ourselves at the end of another school year. Standing before us are children, a little different from the kiddos who held those signs back in September. They have greater knowledge, more life experiences, and have overcome hurdles big and small. They look a little more mature because they are.

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And so, we take another photo.

Fisher Price Tape Recorder Credit: Fisher Price

Embracing the present and future

Each year is different from the last. But they all end with the same sentiment: We can never comprehend where the year went. As if we pressed fast forward and skipped to the end, we find ourselves in the same spot we were in not long ago—yesterday and last year all at once.

And we’ll have that same feeling at the end of the summer as we’re prepping another sign for another first day of school. So, every morning, remember that feeling of time slipping away and fast-forwarding into the future, and perhaps we can ease the weight of our finger on the record button of their childhood.

No matter what, rewinding is not an option, but it also means every difficult day is followed by the chance for a better one.

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Lindsay Karp is a freelance writer with a background in speech-language pathology. She writes about parenting, speech/language development, life with MS and everything in between. Her work has appeared in Parents, The Cut, TIME, Salon, Newsweek, Insider, and other outlets. You can follow her on Twitter @KarpLindsay

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