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Columnist

Cindy Lange-Kubick joined the Lincoln Journal Star in 1994 and has loved covering life in her hometown ever since. Will write for chocolate. Or coffee.

School zone

The city engineer says studies show that some school zones making the road less safe.

Happy Almost-First Day-of-School, Everyone.

This is the day that Lincoln Public Schools has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Or at least give ourselves an extra 5 minutes for the bumper-to-bumper commute with all those kid-laden cars.)

I’ve been known to get weepy on that first end-of-summer Monday morning. (And, no, I am not a teacher.)

I’m also not sending any children off to class, which often caused tears of another kind.

But I’m here for you.

I’ll be here in the morning when you start posting those photos.

The little chalkboard signs with that perfect printing — name, age, favorite subject, future earnings based on expressed career preference in kindergarten.

I do love them. I do.

I’m just glad I’m not taking them.

All the Kubick first day-of-school photos were slightly blurry.

There was often squinting, sometimes a scowl. The occasional lunch box — does anyone carry a lunch box anymore? There were bowl cuts and long, baggy jean shorts. A skinny girl with a lime-green backpack her mom still totes on airplanes. (Note: they made JanSport to last.)

Some advice: Don’t worry about the photo.

Worry about the school zones. Go slow.

Be on the lookout for crazed moms in minivans, who I assume — having once been one — are still out there, possibly driving mid-size SUVs.

Be on alert for darting children, pokey crosswalk-crossers, fifth-graders on scooters.

Breathe in the possibilities, the hope of a perfect report card, the making of new friends, the promise of getting the third grade teacher your big brother loved last year. (Looking at you, Mrs. Woolf.)

Ingratiate yourself with those teachers. All of them. Because, despite their unbridled joy in snow days, despite the immediate counting down of days until fall break, they are in it for your kid.

So turn in those permission slips. Log into the homework portal. Keep sharp pencils. (Keep them at home only.)

Look at those other children. Think of the small hopes and dreams of their parents. Beloved, like your own offspring. (And no doubt, just as annoying.)

I see you judging those middle-schoolers with their phones and that hair and the scent of oncoming adolescence. One day they will be coming home to you.

Love them, too.

Sign up for Fun Night, even if they won’t let you bring a homemade cake for the cake walk because your kitchen hasn’t passed a Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department inspection. (If your kitchen has passed a health department inspection, invite the entire staff over for dinner.)

Sign up for booster club, sign up for PTO. Or not. (If not, don’t complain about how bossy the parents in charge are.)

If you are sending your baby off to school for the first time, go ahead and weep. But don’t be so busy taking the phone video you miss the moment. Feel it.

Life isn’t an Instagram picture.

And there will be more moments to come. More than you can imagine.

The day your kid comes home, bright as a sunbeam, because she learned how to read.

The day she comes home scratching her head and holding the dreaded “second grade has experienced an outbreak of head lice” note.

The day you land in the Lincoln Southeast High School health office and see all those notes written by you, that weren’t written by you.

The day you get the bill for senior pictures.

Oh, yes. I’ll be thinking of you today.

About all the first days and last days to come and all the out of lunch money, fighting in the bathroom, forgetting notebooks, crying over homework days in-between.

All of the hard days and proud days, the growing up of a child with the help of a community of educators to nudge and prod and cheer them on.

And remember, you’ll be returning to Target on Monday night.

Because all those school supplies you bought?

You forgot the protractor.

And the locker mirror.

And whatever it is everyone else had on the first day that your child did not.

Back to school in the Lincoln area

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7218 or clangekubick@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @TheRealCLK.

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