So I just dropped my baby off to 1st grade. This moment has been 15 years in the making as this is the first time since my oldest was born fifteen years ago that I do not have at least one child at home with me during the day. Last year Ava’s kindergarten day ended at 10:50am (crazy, right?) so that doesn’t really count. In previous Septembers I was like the parents skating down the school supply aisle in the commercial singing with joy about the kids going back to school. When I would hear a mom say, “Oh, I’m dreading back to school, I wish it could be summer forever….” I would think, “Are you nuts? Are your kids freakishly well behaved? Are you on Xanax?” Me, by the end of summer, I always welcomed passing the rugrats off to someone else to deal with for the day. Because they fight all summer long. They whine about how bored they are when they have to endure five minutes without friends or an activity. They watch – hold your judgment – more tv than the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends (like WAY more). And then when we kick them off of electronics they do stuff like build forts using every freaking pillow and blanket in the house and that’s when it REALLY gets messy. And did I mention how LOUD it is in my house? So, yeah, normally I’m like “Yay school!” But not this time. Last night I had butterflies in my stomach like it was me going to school today. This year I wanted, needed, just a little more time. Because it’s quiet here as I write this. Too quiet. Quiet enough for me to think that if I wasn’t 43 (crap, I just realized I’m 44) and if I didn’t get deathly ill with a condition during pregnancy that leaves me bedridden and vomiting for months on end and oh yeah, if I still had a uterus….well, it’d be nice to have just ONE more kid to pal around with.
But instead I will clean the house, wash the dishes, do the laundry, mow the lawns, weed my gardens, exercise the dog, make the cookies I promised to have waiting after school, and clean my car so that the 7 girls I am carpooling to golf practice this afternoon do not think Hannah’s mom is a total slob. And I think that’s enough today to keep the tears from falling because I just realized I wasted all this time writing this blog and I need to go and get all that shit done. But before I go I have just a few more things to say about back to school in general…
Gone are the days where we simply had to show up the first day of school and all the supplies you needed were waiting for you in your classroom. No, these days a small fortune is required to send your kids to public school. On my son’s supply list is a $98 calculator for math! I passed kids at the bus stop this morning hunched over from clutching twenty pound Target shopping bags full of their 24 sharpened pencils, 100 index cards, tissues, hand sanitizers and entire reams of printer paper . You should’ve seen the scene at my house last night. Me and all three kids huddled around the table where all of the school supplies had been ceremoniously dumped. Lists in hand, shouting out what they needed, half of which I apparently did not buy. “I need FOUR glue sticks,” my son says, “we only have THREE.” “Three glue sticks is fine!” I yell. “YOU”RE IN 7th GRADE….YOU SHOULD NOT BE GLUING ANYTHING!!!!” “But we need this and that,” they lament, “it’s on our list.” Listen to me, people, all you really need for the first day of school is a pencil and a piece of paper. Seriously, I guarantee you nobody is breaking out the $98 calculator or the red sharpie on the FIRST day of school. I will get your fourth glue stick….I just need more time!
My sophomore in high school – super into fashion, pretty much has been shopping all summer long to gear up for school. Tried on multiple outfits for multiple weather situations, consulted with friends, mad rush of laundry being done last night. We went shopping in Seattle on Monday and bought some stuff at American Eagle. I seriously just got an email a few seconds ago from American Eagle that said, “Hey Janene, how’s your new bra?” Which I find totally creepy and weird and big brotherish….FYI, American Eagle. When I went back to school shopping as a kid, Sears did not call and ask me how I liked my new underwear, I will tell you that.
My 7th grader – literally does not care what he wears. Might possibly wear pajamas to school if it was even remotely socially acceptable. When I mentioned to him that now that he would be in middle school, perhaps he might not want to wear his too small, three year old Star Wars shirt that he lives in, his response was “I don’t care what I wear.” I told him I understood that, but unfortunately, sometimes people will judge you based on how you look. His response was “Whatever. I don’t want to be friends with someone that will judge me by how I look anyway.” My wise little boy. But I know he will wear whichever shirt and pants are on the top of the drawer. So I got to pick his first day of school outfit simply by putting what I thought would look good at the top of the drawer and off he went sans Star Wars shirt.
My 1st grader – oh, where do I even begin? Should I start with the fact that she wears three pairs of socks, all inside out, on each foot pulled up to her knee, sometimes in 6 different colors? Or the fact that, even though she is a size 6, she wears clothes from when she was three which are now paper thin from washing? Should I tell you that taking her shopping is nothing short of torture because EVERYTHING bothers her? And that most of the outfits she puts together call to mind…let’s say, Lady Gaga? Or how about the fact that the child boycotted wearing underwear all summer because it was “not comfortable” even though I bought her like nineteen different kinds of underwear? When I told her that it was the RULE of 1st grade that you had to wear underwear, she relented, but then this morning was in such a state about the underwear that my child left for school happily wearing a BATHING SUIT under her clothes. Sometimes you do what you have to do to get the kid out the door.
FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL PICTURES
So in previous years, apparently when I was a better mother, I would pose each of my children in front of our tree for photos before they left for school. Fast forward to last year, when I seem to have started a new tradition. First day of school….dressed, breakfasts, lunches, backpacks, etc. – suddenly there was no time for photos. “No worries,” I said, “we’ll take them after school.” Didn’t quite happen. About a month later I told the kids, “Go put on your first day of school outfits, stand in front of the tree and smile like it’s September, please.” And off they went again this morning, no photos taken, but I did make a mental note of what each child was wearing for whenever we get around to taking our fake first day of school photos…#slackermomfeelingproud.