Today was the day that’s been hovering in the back of my mind for the last few years. It was the first day of school and all three boys put on new shirts and donned backpacks filled with water bottles and food and indoor shoes.
Even though I’ve been thinking about it almost daily for the last six months, still I found myself scrambling last night as I realized the boys’ backpacks were filthy from all our summer adventures. And Percy, he-who-refuses-to-wear-anything-but-Crocs, didn’t really know how to put the ‘I can’t believe your mom bought you those shoes’ velcro Transformers on his feet.
Save a big batch of trail cookies I hadn’t filled the freezer with anything remotely lunch-ready, besides the multiple large ziploc bags filled with spinach. So I frantically did loads of laundry and made granola and a real dinner with protein and vegetables and drove to Sunterra for bread and (nitrate-free!) lunchmeat and ordered everyone to bathe. (Everyone except me, as it turns out most regrettably.)
The lack of preparation was unfortunate, as this year our cushy school-in-the-backyard, boys-don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out gig is changing significantly. Due to capacity issues, the Gort is attending a different school, not in our neighborhood, not a short walk away. It means the Johnsons have to figure out a way to become the family who is out the door shortly before 7:40 so their oldest student can get to school on time. It means the Hen and his 5 year old brother will need to be escorted to their school since neither of them has proved reliable in checking for cars before crossing the road. And it means I will be performing some sort of Italian Job driving sequence to pick up the Hen and the Gort from their respective schools, seventeen minutes apart in distance, 4 minutes apart in end times. Except I don’t have the promise of lucre to spur me on, merely the wrath of a waiting child.
Perhaps all these logistics have kept me from thinking too much about Percy starting Kindergarten. ‘What are you going to do with yourself,’ people sometimes ask. As though someone has just given me a million dollars to use in any way I want. In response, and I don’t apologize for it, I inevitably frown or raise my eyebrows. Are you kidding me? My newfound freedom equates to roughly 2 hours and 30 minutes four days a week. Yes, he attends school 5 days of the week, but this year the Gort – courtesy of said new school – is home on Fridays until 10.
So, though I am enormously grateful for the 10 hours of weekly solitude, I don’t anticipate pacing the floor, wondering how to fill the time, nor will I be tinkering in the basement and filing patents for all the new inventions I’ve created ‘in my spare time’. Coffee, exercise and classroom volunteering is probably all I will manage.
As for young Percy, is he ready to go to school, to be away from his lifeline? It depends on your definition of readiness, I suppose. Will he cling, crying, to me when I drop him off? No. Save a tantrum about socks, he couldn’t wait to get his new shirt and backpack on today. But does he zip up his own jacket? Put on his own shoes? Open his lunch container without assistance? Mais non.
Can he? Peut-etre, but, I’m sorry to say esteemed Kindergarten teacher, he has sucked the marrow of the ‘baby of the family’ life; he is not used to doing much of anything for himself.
He is accustomed to people standing around, cooing over him and telling him he is cute, even his brothers. So bonne chance to you, Senora. I shall think of you whenever I’m sipping a child-free latte or walking a child-free mile. May you be as enamored with his squeaky dolphin voice as we are.
If not, chin up! It’s only two hours and thirty minutes.
First day of school, September 2, 2014.