School was supposed to start last week, but Hurricane Irene gave Bill and the kids an extra week of summer vacation.
Last Tuesday I had the kids doing all sorts of day-before-the-first-day-back-at-school things: cleaning their rooms, stripping and remaking their beds (okay, I did the remaking), cleaning out their backpacks and restocking them, choosing their clothes for the next day…lots and lots of work.
And then, at some point early in the afternoon, I learned that the first day of school wasn’t going to be tomorrow. It might be Friday, but they weren’t sure.
So I told the kids, and they immediately dropped everything and tried to go off to play, but I stopped that nonsense and told them they still had to finish.
“Why? We don’t even have school tomorrow!”
I don’t care. You need to clean up this big mess that you made while you were cleaning. Just do it now, and then it’ll be DONE.
Grumblingly, they trudged back to the dining room and finished my cruel and torturous chores.
Some days, motherhood is so much fun!
Yesterday Bill and I both said we felt like it wasn’t REALLY the day before the start of school. That feeling had gone the week before. We had that anticipatory build-up, and then – poof – it was over.
This morning we all got up early, and all wanted to go back to bed. It was dark, and a little chilly, and rainy.
The rain started to fall at some point overnight, and we’ll have rain for the next few days. Rain and cold. Well, relative cold. In the spring, highs in the 60s is tropical. In September – it’s time to bring out the sweaters. Okay, not really. But it’s funny how season affects temperature perception.
Normally on the first day of school, we – parents and students and teachers – are all outside. Teachers and their students are listed on sheets of paper and posted outside at one end of the courtyard, and the spots to line up for each class are at the other end. So you go peruse the lists for your child’s grade, find out who their teacher is, scan the list to see which of your child’s friends are in his class and which of the troublemakers are ALSO in his class, and they your child joins his new classmates and old friends against the brick wall. Parents take pictures, chat with other parents, occasionally annoy their children with hugs or kisses. The bell rings, your children follow their new teachers into the building, and you leave – back to work, back home, grocery shopping, or whatever.
This year, because of the rain, everything was indoors. The older kids (oh, how it pains me to think of Alex as one of the OLDER kids!! And how equally it delights my big little boy!) assembled, by class, in the halls near the classrooms.
Alex met up with one of his buddies since kindergarten, I talked briefly to his mom, and then, reluctantly, I said goodbye to Alex. He didn’t need me to be there. I kissed him on the cheek whether he wanted me to or not (I can, I’m your mother, I get to do that), and told him to have a great day. He smiled – a real smile – and then turned back to his friends.
Julia and I headed into the gym to find out who her teacher would be. As always, some of her friends (since they were LITTLE kids back in kindergarten) are with her this year and some aren’t. We crossed the room to where her class was gathering, and she soon joined her little friends in line.
And then she jumped from elementary school girl to teenager and OH the look I got when I kissed her on the cheek! After all the fun of me painting her nails this morning and braiding her hair and all that – suddenly I am – ew – her mother.
It hurt a little, frankly. But I also didn’t take it too seriously. Moments earlier she had whispered to me that she felt a little shy. I am pretty sure her look of irritated embarrassment was just a little suit of armor she put on, just in case.
I hung around, gradually moving farther away from Julia’s group. She didn’t seem to need me, but I hovered, just in case. I don’t know if I hoped she’d suddenly burst from the group and give me a fierce hug, or burst into tears, or just continue to pretend I belonged to someone else. I figured she’d do whatever she needed to do.
I met up with a friend of mine, and as we talked I saw Julia’s class line up and start to file through the gym, en route to their new classroom. I stepped closer to the little parade, and as Julia neared, our eyes met, and I held my hand out, palm toward Julia. The surly teenager left her eyes, the seven-year-old returned, and she high-fived me on her way to second grade.