Beginning school in a dangerous world

It’s that time of year again, when school bells start ringing across Northeast Michigan.

Yellow school buses soon will be stopping at street corners. Young students with backpacks who look somewhat like turtles will race home each day after the last bell rings. Anxious parents will line up outside the school awaiting their child to come out the door.

It’s that time of year again.

As parents, a new school year allows us to see our children make new friends, develop new social skills, and expand their educational knowledge. Parents play a pivotal role this time of year in “setting the tone” for the school year ahead.

The same is true for grandparents.

As grandparents, most of us also learn that the parenting techniques we used with our children — while still helpful — take on a new perspective and, perhaps, an even greater importance at this stage in the lives of our grandchildren.

For me, as the grandfather of four granddaughters, it means to always have a willing ear to listen, a wise mind to know when to offer advice and when to not, a supportive attitude toward all their activities, and lots of prayers to surround each of them each day while at school.

Two of my granddaughters in Ohio already have been in school now for nearly two weeks. One granddaughter in Michigan isn’t old enough for school, yet, while the other will begin classes right after Labor Day.

All of them are active young ladies and my calendar of activities, which is color-coded for each child, looks like a colorful, patchworked quilt for each month’s activities now through October.

I have learned, however, that, while being there for each of them and their activities is important, the most important thing I can do each day for my granddaughters is to surround them with prayer.

We all know the world around us can be cruel and dark sometimes, so I want to equip them the best I can with the knowledge of right and wrong when they face tough decisions in their lives.

The other day, I was reading the newspaper when I came across a story on a new threat on the streets of the U.S. — multicolored fentanyl pills that look very much like candy. Border Patrol agents seized in two different incidents last week more than 265,000 of those fentanyl pills.

As a grandfather, that makes me upset. Why would a manufacturer of those pills go to the trouble of coloring them if they only were intended for adults? Clearly, those pills were colored that way to make them more attractive to a younger and probably more naive audience.

All of which makes my blood boil. You see, for me, the issue is personal.

This summer, a nephew died from a fentanyl overdose. I know the heartache that has caused, the questions that now will be forever unanswered.

That is why I get upset to learn of yet another potential danger out there on the streets that our children and grandchildren might face.

The last thing I want to do is wrap my granddaughters in bubble wrap. I want them to experience life to the fullest by making smart decisions and choosing good friends.

But I also want them to understand that, when faced with choices, there always is a good response and a bad response — and I want them to be able to differentiate between the two.

I believe children are faced with much more today than past generations have had to deal with.

This school year, be involved with your child’s education. Attend their school-related activities. Sit with them over dinner and talk about their day at school.

If you do, I guarantee it will be a great school year for both of you.

Bill Speer recently retired as the publisher and editor of The News. He can be reached at bspeer@thealpenanews.com.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today