As the end of the first week of school comes to a close, I congratulate students, parents and teachers for surviving the most anxiety-ridden week in the school calendar.

I would take a thousand weeks of exams before I would repeat the first day of school.

Like most parents, I worry far too much about my children and I make no apologies for it. There is a lot to get anxious about: Will they fit in? Will they survive if they don’t? Will they skip my genetic ineptitude for math (sadly, no)? I have said it before, but it bears repeating: parenthood is like allowing your heart to run in traffic. Everything you love is wrapped up in the lives of these incredible beings that your primal nature wants to protect; yet you have to let them go out into the world to learn the hard way because the best classroom is life itself.

On a positive note, I am impressed with how much things in this country have changed – and in ways I never could have predicted when I was a kid. While we often focus on the negative side of humanity – because it’s like watching the movie before you read the book; it’s easier – I am inspired to see that change is happening.

When I was a student, there was no such thing as a learning disability. You either understood the subjects or you were dumb. Special help meant you were really dumb. So you either got mean and acted out or were harassed by your classmates. Often a tutor tried to coax you to learn using the same teaching principles you had already proven you could not comprehend. Your parents paid for their compliance.

Public school isn’t perfect, but the education system has evolved. Technology and resources are available for students and teachers. Instead of segregation between students with identified learning or physical disabilities, there seems to be more inclusiveness in schools so that peers help peers, instead of fostering judgment. We get it. People learn differently and that’s okay. It’s 40 years too late for me, but for my children, it’s a good thing.

People love differently too. The numerous friends I had growing up who were homosexual (but could never openly admit it) cannot believe how the acceptance of sexuality and the human right to love has evolved.

Our kids are far more courageous than we were to stand up for one another too. Looks like society is growing up.

Bullying will never go away though. There will always be jerks just like there will always be targets. Human nature is what it is. The issue extends to the workplace, boardroom, sports teams, social circles and even relationships. But at least now we talk about it. We can identify it, our kids are learning how to navigate it and we empower them to be the change.

Nothing happens overnight, but if these kids are our leaders of tomorrow, this is where positive change starts.

Now if we could just end the stigma of mental illness and champion it the way we do cancer, diabetes or any other disease, we would truly be a healthy, accepting nation. They say some things never change. I say they are wrong.

Stigma is passé. Pass it on.