One week, they’re lost in the land of swords and long shadows and hide and seek between the trees and dog chasing and what summer should be when you’re five- and seven-years-old.
And then, with an open house or two, a goodnight and a wake up, it’s back to the grind.
The ease of the transition from one photo to the other came as a shock to me. Or, rather, the ease with which they accepted the transition of summer fun and less restrictive rules and later bedtimes and easy living to school year rigidity and early bed times and up early and rush rush rush surprised me. The difficulty with which I have slammed into this transition comes as no surprise, however; I miss the messy, lazy, noisy, unrushed scheduled-but-not-scheduled days of our summers. I have managed to stop crying every time they leave me behind, but if you follow me on Instagram, you know my heart still breaks every time they step on the bus and leave me behind.
“Do I have to sit with my brother on the bus for the rest of my life?”
The question came over dinner between questions about the concept of infinity and a fart joke. I wanted to reply, “Yes! Yes! Yes, you have to sit with your brother on the bus for the rest of your life. Two are stronger than one! Power and safety in numbers and all that jazz!” We’ve asked that the two of them sit together as LittleBrother learns the ins and outs of being a Kindergartener. Apparently, thanks to Origami Yoda and the other creations my two have taken on the bus this year, my youngest son already befriended a third grader. I know I don’t need to worry about them as they learn these new ropes. But I’m me; I worry.
“No, not forever. Just while you’re getting used to everything.”
“I’m already used to everything.”
I know. I’m not. They are. They’re good for each other, these brothers.
Whatever. Not true. You were just born. Like yesterday. Like five minutes ago.
Okay, maybe not.
Today you headed off to Kindergarten, ready to face the new — the new school, the new teachers, the new friends, the new playground, the new routines, the new of it all. To say that you were excited is an understatement. To say that you were miffed yesterday when your brother headed off to second grade while you had to stay home due to the Kindergarten staggered start is also an understatement. I love that you already love school.
I love you.
I know you’ve heard me talk about how I’m sad that you’re heading off for Kindergarten. I want you to know that my sadness has nothing to do about your readiness.
You got this.
Ain’t no thang.
You’re going to rock Kindergarten so hard. So hard! And I am so excited that I get to stand beside you as you do. Just give me an extra hug and maybe pass me a tissue.
Mommy (and Daddy)
I’ve wanted to smash everything. All day.
I’ve been on edge and angsty. Despite a lovely coffee break with friends this morning, I left feeling lonely, lost inside myself. Even when my husband bent to kiss me when he returned from running errands, I didn’t feel like I deserved kisses or love or the presence of everyone. I pushed him away; I tried to push myself away.
I listened to angry music in my office while I worked. That didn’t make it better. I listened to happy music. That didn’t make it better. I listened to sad music and then I cried.
Yesterday evening, I watched Booey inside the room that will be his classroom — his world for eight hours a day. He played happily with the puppets. He walked around the room. He found Froggy books. He talked to his teacher. He happily found an old friend, learned another firefighter kid will be in class as well. He’s oh-so-ready.
I am not.
I bit my lip as I confessed to his teacher that I was struggling more than I expected to; I mean, I’ve been through this already with BigBrother, so I should be a pro by now. She nodded, admitting that she’s having a rough season of transition as her son heads off to college this fall. I nodded, watching him play so happily.
I didn’t cry in public. We went out for ice cream with two happy boys, ready for the next stages of their lives.
I sniffled on my run, but choked back any real emotions because I’m brave and courageous and everything will be just fine. People tell me that all the time. “You’re so brave.”
Except I’m not very brave.
Or good at this. At all.
I’m going to miss my baby boy so much that my stomach physically hurts right now. And quite honestly, I am tired of missing my children. I feel the ache of missing so deeply, so keenly right now. The missing and the hurting and the worrying and the fear. All of this likely compounded by the length of time it has been since I last saw my daughter; all of this compounded by the fact that life is what it is, that it can’t be changed, that the reality of my mothering is grounded in loss, in missing.
“You’re so brave.”
No, I’m just a mom, doing what she has to do. And today, that involves crying and hurting for everything I miss.
Rumor has it that school starts in five days. Or something. I’m totally not paying attention because I’m in denial and desperately wanting to cling to summer (minus the hot temperatures) for as long as possible. Also, there’s that thing where my baby is heading off to Kindergarten and, yes, I may be overcome with all of the emotions. All of them.
Despite the denial and general weeping, I did manage to get all of the school supplies purchased on their two lists. Remember when “school shopping” meant going to the store and arguing with your mom over which clothes you were going to purchase (or, because the 80’s, put on layaway)? Yeah. Now instead of All the Clothes, we get to purchase All the Supplies. Yes, school is about learning and education. Yes, I do like buying school supplies. But man. That’s a lot of glue sticks.
I avoided that One Store That Has Everything from Name Brand Crayons to Generic Cereal entirely this year. In rural America, that’s difficult, so you should be in awe of me. I shopped at Rite Aid, CVS and, for the last four things (two of which weren’t required as they were backpacks), Amazon. I win.
Kindergarten supplies: 4 folders, 1 binder, 5 spiral notebooks, 24 glue sticks (…), 2 packs of dry erase markers (I went with 4 markers per pack because it wasn’t specified), 2 coloring books (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Team OomiZumi), 1 Pink Pearl eraser (came in packs of 3, so we’re sending him with 1 of the 3), 2 packs 24 crayons, 2 packs 8 washable markers, 1 pack construction paper, 2 boxes tissues, 2 Clorox Wipes (oops, bought Lysol Wipes, but it came in a 3 pack, so my household scored and extra one!), 1 pack brown bags, 2 tubs of wipes (CVS brand), 1 giant glue stick (for Art class), 1 t-shirt (for Art class), and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles backpack with attachable lunchbox (the only thing on the table that wasn’t “required”). Also, what decade is this?
LittleBrother is in awe that all of this stuff is for him. I almost felt bad that neither boy got “fun” notebooks or folders, but I was shopping the deals and the deals were the Plain Jane of School Supplies. I didn’t argue. I grabbed different colors, gave myself a high five, and kept on shopping.
2nd Grade Supplies: 3 folders, 2 packs pencils, 1 pencil case, 1 pencil box (reused from last year), 1 pair of scissors (reused from last year), 1 pack washable markers, 2 packs crayons, 2 bottles white glue, 2 packs glue sticks (didn’t specify quantity, so I went with 3 packs because OMG GLUE STICKS), 1 box gallon bags, 1 tub baby wipes, 1 box tissues, 2 notebooks, 1 Primary Journal (impossible to find in our stores), 1 pack glue sticks for art class, 1 t-shirt (Art class), and a Ninjago backpack (not required; reusing Mario lunchbox from last year).
Obviously, 2nd graders don’t need as much stuff. Or glue sticks. But still, glue sticks.
The total of my savings, based on the “you saved this much” at the bottom of my multiple receipts from multiple trips on multiple weeks to get the best deals? $187.56. I spent 40% of that total (WITH backpacks and the lunch stuff below). I win.
One thing I bought for each boy this year that I’m super excited about: Bento style lunch containers for their lunchboxes from EasyLunchBoxes.com. (Or, you know, from Amazon.com, because free shipping.)
Basically, LittleBrother needed something to hold his food (because we are wanna-be hippies and don’t do plastic baggies) in his lunchbox and BigBrother needed a replacement for the one he had last year because someone broke it. (It was me.) I searched around for awhile, wanting BPA free options and also, you know, affordable, because OMGGLUESTICKS. I ended up finding a four pack of these great three divider boxes on Amazon. I bought them, hoping they would be of good quality and fit in their lunchboxes. Answer? WIN WIN! They’re easy to open to boot. I’m thrilled with the purchase, and after they arrived, I purchased their Mini-Dippers too (as the three divider is not guaranteed to be leak proof) so I can send hummus, ranch dressing for dipping carrots, and whatever else I want to send that they won’t eat! I LOVE PACKING LUNCHES. No, I don’t.
Really. I hate packing lunches. Alas, I hate school lunches more and thankfully so do my children.
All of their school supplies are now packed (read: stuffed) in two (reusable, of course) bags, sitting in our dining room. Tonight we will take LittleBrother’s off to school, meet his teacher at Kindergarten Open House, and leave the bag in his cubby. Then I will take my little boy off for ice cream, tell him how proud I am of him, and sob deeply and wholly on my run after he is tucked safely in his bed for the night. BigBrother will take his supplies on Monday when the rest of the school gets to endure Open House, whereupon I’ll get to wear a PTA shirt and tell all the parents why they should be a part of our group.
More ice cream will be necessary. Obviously.
I just realized that I bought all of these awesome school supplies and didn’t even buy myself a new pack of my favorite Pilot G2 pens like I do every year. Look at me, having all kinds of restraint. Sigh.
Last month, I bragged on Twitter that I was so proactive, so organized, so Supermom, that I snagged the first Kindergarten registration slot for LittleBrother. Last night the reality finally sunk in that I actually had to take my baby to register him for Kindergarten.
Before we could even turn in the required paperwork, a friendly teacher came, helped him with his nametag, and ushered him down the hallway for his testing. He didn’t look back at either of his parents, one of whom chewed the inside of her lip so as not to start weeping before she even filled out the necessary paperwork to send him away on a daily basis.
We sat in the hallway of an old elementary building turned administration building. The artwork was nostalgic; my heart still hurt.
Eventually, I wrote his birthdate umpteen times and checked boxes and lied a little bit that he gets along with his brother because, really, they do. You know, if you look at a big picture kind of thing and not at the fact that they argue over whether or not they should play Star Wars or Ninjago or Scooby Doo. That’s not what they were asking, right? I started to sweat over whether I just lied or not, but I finished the paperwork. Then I got grilled by the school nurse and held my own.
Then my mind boggled, because class of 2026? What?
And then we sat again.
We were ushered to a different waiting spot to wait for our exit interview. The Guidance Counselor, knowing that this is our baby, asked, “Are you okay? Sending your baby off?” I decided to go with the honest answer since I may or may not have lied about whether my baby gets along with his older brother. “No. No, I’m not okay.” Soon I was blathering about making pizza dough with LittleBrother; I talk a lot when I’m nervous. Or emotional. Especially when I’m overly emotional and nervous and near tears.
And then he was back.
He did well during his testing. He’s smart; we knew that. He is personable; yes, we knew that too. He’ll do fine next year at school; I have no doubt. We voiced a few concerns and were met with answers. Really, the whole thing went so smoothly that I almost forgot that I was agreeing to send him off five days a week, for too many hours a day.
But oh, he’s excited.
Oh, my heart.