My experience with pledging was not anything Lifetime would be interested in, but it was challenging. I remember thinking how terrible it was to be woken up at random hours and sent to do crazy tasks. How there always seemed to be sisters around watching you, and how annoying that was. And, of course, wondering why I had to memorize so many “useful” facts.
Pledging was definitely the worst — until I was actually in the sorority and saw pledging from the other side. As a pledge, I got woken up randomly at times; as a sister, I had to be there 20 to 30 minutes before the call was even made. I had to know where pledges were and be on the lookout for them constantly. I had to re-memorize the facts so I knew if the pledges were getting them right or not. Basically, I had to re-pledge every semester. (Side note: I love my sorority and would do it again, but it was not something I realized when started the pledging process.)
I am discovering that sending your kids to school is a lot like the pledge process. Not only did I have to go through and suffer all the hardships of school — getting up to make the bus, homework, the social and emotional torture that is being a child — but now I am going through it again. Not just once, but three separate times (and at the same time), because each of my kids is turning out to be very different, and so are their school experiences.
It’s a hard process for several reasons. First, sleeping is my love language and I want nothing more than to wake up at 8 every day. Secondly, it is a lot more (physical) work on this side of the school process. There are lunches to be packed, clothes or uniforms to be prepared, bus or carpool plans to make, various worksheets and books and folders to sign and read through, and then the homework. The hardest part, though, is that while there is more physical work for the parents, the kids still bear the brunt of the emotional work.
What do I mean by that? I mean kids have to succeed and fail, make friends and lose them, be embarrassed and triumphant — all while learning their emotions, their bodies and their timetables. And we, the parents, can only sit and observe. Hopefully they will let us in to help guide them through those difficult feelings, but does anything really take the sting away from the first time your friend chooses to sit with someone other than you? Or when you get called on in class but simply do not know the answer? Those are memories that stay with you forever.
As parents, we want to protect our kids and make sure they never have to experience the same hurts and traumas that we had as kids. In some cases we can avoid some things, but the truth is that pain is a part of growing up and there is no avoiding it. Sometimes, as parents, all we can do is hug them, listen to them and maybe give them some answers. We will never be able to answer the whys: Why did she say those mean things? Why did they all laugh at me? We can help them with the hows: how to move forward, how to respond. It may not take away the hurt, but it can help with the healing, and sometimes that is all we can do.