It’s official; summer is O-V-E-R. Gone are days at the pool, mid-day picnics at the park, and “Grammy days.” Here for the next 9 months are strict weekday schedules, homework times 4, and the nearly impossible task of whipping up dinner quick enough to appease the hungry troops (I know, I need to get better with the CrockPot).
Lex and Annie started school last week (3rd and 1st grade), with an open house on Monday and the first official day on Tuesday. So far, it has been a great start to the year. Annie is settling in comfortably, as she went to the same school last year for kindergarten. Lex made the jump to the next elementary school for 3rd and 4th graders. Both girls are more than happy with their teachers, with Lex even remarking that her teachers are “the best ones ever!” Annie wasn’t so sure at first, but she has had nothing but good things to say about her teacher. The only issue we had was with me at Annie’s open house. The plan was for me to meet the kids there, since they were with their dad. As I was waiting to walk in the door, the principal was happily greeting the families in front of me. When I was about to walk in, she looked me up and down and kind of peered around me like she was looking for something. “I don’t see any kids with you.” she quipped with a snotty attitude. I was taken aback by the comment and gave some sort of response stating that I was meeting my kids here before walking in. At this point, I was frustrated. I didn’t know it was a crime to attend a school open house if my child was not directly glued to my side. I mean, hello, has she ever heard of divorced parents? Or does she really think I want to come to the open house and abduct other people’s kids when I can’t even deal with the four I have sometimes? This is not the first time we have had problems with this woman, so I just chalked it up to her being a big jerk (this is a nice term for what I really called her).
Okay, enough complaining. On the girls’ first day of school they were with their dad, so I went over early to get them ready. They painstakingly picked out their first day outfits a few days before from the new stuff they had received and had it waiting in a pile for me to bring that morning. I arrived and began the task of hair. After all, they had to look fabulous for the first day. I think they succeeded. Once they were ready, I snapped a few pictures and started to get all teary thinking about them being another grade older.
My little Banana was now going to be a grade-schooler, one of the older kids in the school. Lex was moving up to 3rd grade. 3rd grade! To say that, coupled with the fact she is 8-years-old, just sounds so old. I honestly don’t feel old enough to have a 3rd grader. A 1st grader, definitely, but not a 3rd grader. All of those other old parents have 3rd graders but not me (I can only imagine how those I went to high school with feel having kids that are actually IN high school now…craziness). Once I left their dad’s house, I sobbed in my van as I drove to work.
I knew the real kicker was coming this week, and I have been trying to avoid thinking about it for fear of crying. Cole and Cael, my (semi) sweet baby boys, were headed to kindergarten. It didn’t seem quite real at the beginning of the summer when they graduated preschool, but here was reality slapping me in the face. I attended a meeting with Cole’s teacher last Tuesday (same day the girls started school…and yes, that was an emotional day) and had both boys’ kindergarten open house last Friday. The meeting with Cole’s teacher only made things worse for me. She asked me a question, and I answered honestly. Unfortunately, it was probably not the answer she wanted to hear, and it left me worried that she might treat Cole differently because of it. This left me apprehensive to meet Cael’s teacher, but as soon as I walked into her classroom, the atmosphere was warm and inviting. I felt like it was a place that Cael would thrive, and I was thankful he was placed in that class. Please don’t think that Cole got the shaft on teachers. From what I have heard about their program, all of their teachers are very good and highly recommended. I am sure both boys are going to have a wonderful experience; it’s just me that had the anxiety.
Sunday night, before their big day, they were again with their dad, and I was at home painting. I needed something constructive to keep me occupied. In the middle of rolling my bedroom walls, I just started crying. And I don’t mean just a few tears; I am talking full-on sobs and tears (and mascara) pouring down my face. Poor Raymond had to deal with this. When he asked what was wrong, I gave some unintelligible answer about not wanting my babies to go to school. When he responded about that being a happy thing, I only cried harder. Yes, I do want them to go to school and learn and experience things, but my reason for crying was purely selfish – I don’t want them to grow up, any of them. I don’t have any more babies in the technical sense; all four of them are in school full-time. And I’m fairly positive that there will be no more babies for me. What makes me sad about that is I keep thinking of all of the time that I feel I wasted not making memories with my kids. Or it makes me think back to when they were very little, and I get frustrated that there are holes in my memories. I feel like I have missed so much, and I can’t get it back, which makes me feel guilty. After acknowledging all of those feelings and having that good cry, I did feel a little better and was as ready as I could be to face Monday.
I woke up early Monday morning, got myself ready, and was on my way to meet the boys at their dad’s. With today being their first day, the normal plan was altered, so I could see them off. An extremely nice lady they attend church with offered to let the boys come to her house in the morning to get the bus, and I was going to drive them there that day. I loaded them into the van, but not without a few pictures.
On the drive, they were busily chatting about school and making new friends. I looked back at them, sitting in their boosters, and remembered what it looked like when I had two infant carriers strapped to those seats. I started crying again. Cole, being the sensitive one that he is, said, “Mom, just give me your hand,” as he squeezed it tight. “Cael, hold Mom’s hand because she is sad,” he instructed his brother, and we drove to the house that way.
Once we arrived, the boys bounded out of the van and into the house. They were met by the lady’s children, all smiles. In the house, they were easily distracted due to the novelty of a new place, but they needed a good breakfast before their first day. They ate quickly, and then we went outside to wait for the bus, which makes a stop right in front of the house. We didn’t have to wait long before the bus appeared, ready to carry them and the rest of the children on their new journey. They gathered up their book bags and school supply bags and ran to bus. I watched from the drive for a bit before moving up to take a picture of them. They were nothing but smiles, the excitement of school and opportunities visible on their faces. It was almost impossible to be sad when I saw how happy they were.
After the bus left, I chatted a bit with the lady and another man whose cute-as-a-button daughter was also going to catch the bus from her house (she also happened to be in Cole’s class…more on that later) before leaving to come to work. I, thankfully, had taken an hour of vacation time that morning to see the boys off to school, and it was a good thing I did (as well as put on waterproof mascara). I needed that time to pull myself together, to process what just happened, and get myself ready for the new adventure that is back-to-school for all four of my babies.
As for that cute little girl in Cole’s class, I think his phone conversation with my mom sums it up pretty nicely. As I was cooking dinner last night, I heard him telling her about his first day, about his teacher, recess, and finishing all his lunch in the cafeteria. Then I heard him mention Alicia and how pretty she was. Goodness sake, it is already starting and in kindergarten, no less! I didn’t know I was going to have to worry about girls on the first day, but I guess it is Cole we are talking about. Cael, on the other hand, didn’t mention any girls, just the kids who didn’t want to follow the rules on the first day. With him, I just pray that he wasn’t one of those kids.