Long Island Parent Talk

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How we beat the back-to-school blues

Harrison Kellogg McKenna

Harrison Kellogg McKenna (Credit: Newsday photo / Valerie Kellogg)

I kept asking Harrison, “Are you feeling OK?” as I patted his cheeks and forehead quickly and routinely to feel for a fever. Each time, he would tell me, “I’m fine. I’m just tired.”

It took me a few weeks to catch on that a new strain of an end-of-summer bug had overcome my 8-year-old son.

Harrison has traditionally been quite vocal about where he feels the balance in life should be — “more play, play, play; less work, work, work,” he’ll say. He adopted that mantra in kindergarten after querying my husband and I about how many years of schooling lay ahead of him. Panic set in when we explained what college is, and he’s never been the same.


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So I set out to help him change his attitude in the countdown to the first day back. I told him how much I enjoyed school throughout my life, from elementary school to graduate school. I suggested that he picture me at 8 having a good time. “Oh, that helps!” he said.

Then, when a conversation about returning to school turned ugly, I explained how there are two ways in life to be — to have a positive attitude, which can make good things happen to you, or to have a negative attitude, which can make you sick.

He bought it.

The first day went off without a hitch, and then the second day. He smiled widely, did his homework in short order, said he loved his teacher, his classroom too, felt happy about reuniting with friends, thought his homemade lunches were scrumptious, and something more.

“I think fourth grade is going to be my best grade ever,” he announced.

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