Every year it is the same…”back to school” ads in the paper and on TV, every store window looks like the perfect dorm room, there are fewer school-age children at our favorite daytime play places and, last but not least, my Facebook newsfeed is filled with “first day of (fill-in-the-blank) grade” pictures of happy, new clothes-clad, chalkboard-holding school children.
Years ago, as a mom of babies, I hardly recognized the switch from summer to fall, save for the changing colors of leaves, the crisper air and my abundant garden needing to be preserved. When my oldest was in preschool we decided to homeschool, so the beginning of the fall school year meant 1-3 days of an hour or two at home and some fun “field trips”to the local pumpkin patch. It wasn’t until last year, when we decide to put her into public school kindergarten, that the enormity of back-to-school-ism really hit our family. We bought our school supplies, took our “first day of kindergarten” pictures and posted them on social media, just like the rest of the world. But, still, it was only half-day kindergarten. I still had one preschooler and one baby at home and it never REALLY felt too serious. Flash forward to this year. Our oldest is in all-day 1st grade, our middle child in homeschool prekindergarten and our baby in homeschool pre-preschool. This. Is. Serious. (And for those of you with ALL your children in all-day school, please don’t laugh.)
Our first grader is attending a very cool, very sustainable, very HIPPIE charter school here in our home town. School days are Monday through Thursday 8:50-3:05 and Fridays until 1:05. They have art twice a week…real, actual ART (gasp!), recess every day outside, rain or shine (and hello, this is Portland, Oregon so that means RAIN for much of the next seven months) and they take a walking “out and about” each week. So, for our back-to-school supplies this meant a $90 waterproof jacket from REI, $60 Bogs rain boots that keep footsies cozy and dry in 10 degrees, a reusable water bottle and lunch box filled with gluten, nut and sugar-free, organic items in recyclable or reusable bags and containers. (Insert husband’s gag.)
Phew! It’s only the 2nd week of school and I’m already exhausted! Not to mention, I cried like a baby when she and my husband left on the first day and I stayed home with the younger two (a scheme we devised last year on her first day of kindergarten so I wouldn’t exhibit said crying at the school and embarrass my big girl). Ironically, however, when I assumed the task of dropping her off on the SECOND day of school, the crying fit came anyway. Aaaaand, to make matters worse, I feared all day long on the first day that I had forgotten to get her. 11:40 rolled around and as I’m making the other two lunch, I panicked thinking I should have left to pick her up already, only to remember that I still had over THREE MORE HOURS. Geeeez! My days have never felt so long! How am I going to last another nine months of this! Forget that, how am I going to last the next 12 years?!!
There’s hope for me, right?! I’m ready for this, yes? (No.) YES!