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The not-so-teary school send-off

So long, summer. I will miss you. I will miss the field trips and the swimming and the relaxing and the sleeping. (Mostly the sleeping.)

So long, mommyhood of toddlers and preschoolers. You? I will not miss so much.

Nathan made his grand (and I do mean GRAND) entrance into the world of kindergarten this week. We’re holding a 24 hour prayer vigil for his teacher. Academically, he could skip right on over to 1st grade. Maybe 2nd. Behaviorally? Ummm…he could perhaps use a few more years to mature and then be the world’s first 8 year old kindergartener. I discreetly suggested to his teacher that if she can keep a book in his hands or worksheets in front of him, he should be fine. And make sure his hands are folded and he’s looking her in the eye when she’s giving instructions. Otherwise? It could get ugly.

But when I picked him up on Monday afternoon and asked him how his day was, he replied most enthusiastically, “AWESOME!” and told me all about it. Earlier that morning (emphasis on the word eeeeearly) I hit the alarm at the ripe old hour of 6:15 and rolled out of bed. Since I would be walking the boys to their classes and then making my way to the library for the “BooHoo/WooHoo” breakfast for kindergarten parents, I actually had to put clothes on and brush my hair and slap on some makeup. On every other school morning, I will be the pale-faced mom with the baseball cap and pajama pants driving through the car line in the dented, dirty minivan.

So. BooHoo/WooHoo. Let me just say that I am absolutely, completely, totally, 100% in the WooHoo camp. I don’t know what it is about me – stone-cold heart, fiercely independent, bad mom, tired mom – but I have never been sad to see my kids go off to school. I know. Freakishly weird I am. For me, the first day of school is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Doesn’t even come close to Christmas. I love my kids. I (mostly) enjoy them. They’re fun to be around. But they need to talk to somebody else for 7 hours a day so I can hear myself think. And go to the grocery store by myself without someone shouting every 2.3 minutes, “OOOOH! Can we get THAT?”

But I went to the BH/WH breakfast, mainly because my friend Gracie was in charge, and I told my introverted self to go sit in a corner and read a book like she wanted to while I forced my socially challenged self to mingle and smile and make small talk. Which I did. Quite graciously, I might add.

After all the mingling and smiling and small talking, we took a seat at the munchkin-sized library tables while the PTA president introduced the principal, who introduced the staff, who then turned it back to the PTA president, who talked about PTA and the school and told a few jokes. (I think I may like her. She was really funny.) Then she asked if anyone had any questions.

Hands shot up in the air like rockets. Nervous hands that had just patted their firstborn cherubs on the head and left them in the care of a well-dressed stranger.

I get it. When you haven’t been an elementary school parent for 7 years and you don’t know the drills, you’re a little nervous. The logistics of car lines and volunteering and lunch schedules are a little daunting. And for 99.798% of moms who are sad to see their babies off to the big school, the unfamiliarity mixed with the emotions can make them a wee bit nervous.

But for the remaining 0.202% of us, we really wish you would wrap up your questions so we can go home and take an early morning nap.

Which I did. For 2 ½ hours. Glory hallelujah.

I have discussed with a few friends, my mom, and my husband why I am so unemotional about the beginning of school, especially when my baby is starting kindergarten. I co-hosted a baby shower last weekend, and I noticed that while I thought all the baby clothes and socks and accessories – and even the 3 month old baby girl who came with her mom – were very cute and sweet, I have no desire at all to repeat that season of my life. It’s time to move on. I loved having babies and toddlers and preschoolers, but I am happily embracing this new season of independence and learning and experiences. I don’t miss those days at all. Really.

I love how we can now pick up and go somewhere without worrying about nap schedules and diaper bags and sippy cups. And I love that my kids can get up in the mornings and fix their own breakfasts and turn on the TV by themselves while I catch a few extra minutes hours of sleep. I love that they can buckle their own seatbelts. And put on their own clothes. And socks. And shoes. And brush their own teeth.

I kinda love not being so needed.

It gives me a lot more time for sleep.

But what does jerk my tear ducts is this young lady:
The one who is now shaving her legs and doing other things that I don’t dare mention publicly for fear of utterly humiliating her and ruining her life. Having a kindergartner I can handle. Having a preteen? Have mercy.

I don’t like to think about the fact that she’s in 6th grade, and I vividly remember 6th grade and how painful life can be when you’re 11 years old – and 13, and 16, and 18… I don’t like to think about the fact that in seven very short years, she will be leaving our nest. That I cannot handle.

And trust me, my proverbial hand has shot up into the air many times as I ask my friends who have teenagers, “How do you handle…(fill in the innumerable blanks)?”

Ironically, we were videotaping some end-of-summer happenings last week – taping over what we had already burned to DVD – and when we watched it back on the camera screen and the recent taping ended, what past event do you think popped up on the screen? Of course. Nathan’s birth. Those first moments when I held this precious minutes-old infant in my arms and just gazed at him in amazement.

I confess I did have a small moment of “aawwwww” – but truly, what got me most was the next segment when Meghan and Griffin came to my hospital room to see their new baby brother. Meghan had two big red bows in her long, curly hair. She still had all of her baby teeth and a huge smile on her not-yet-slender face. She giggled as she tenderly held and kissed and patted her new baby brother, clearly head over heels in love with the little guy. (She still is. Most days.) And Griffin? Ah, Griffin. He sweetly laid his treasured blue blanket over his little brother. Then he started taking off his shoes, and you hear Michael say, “Griffin, don’t take off your socks,” to which Griffin replies, “NO!” and takes them off anyway. And no one does anything about that little act of defiance.

I’m hoping that can be explained by the fact that I had just pushed a human being out of my body, and we were all a little distracted. Otherwise, it could explain A LOT.

Take heed, young parents. Corral them while you can.

Anyway.

While I should have bawled over seeing my newborn baby, I was more moved by seeing my older kids not so old. Quite young, in fact. And now I sent one off to third grade and one…oh geez…to 6th grade.

I think I need another nap.

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