Thursday, August 07, 2008

Bittersweet

I look forward to this time of year every year. In fact I have declared it to be BETTER THAN CHRISTMAS. But this year it just kinda snuck up on me. I mean it was only August 6th for goodness sakes. Isn't this supposed to take place closer to Labor Day?

I suspect some of my gentle readers are a bit mystified. What could I be talking about that takes place near Labor Day and is better than Christmas? Labor day is possibly one of the worst holidays of the year. Sure it's a day off work for those who are gainfully employed, but there's no barbeque's like Memorial Day. No fireworks like the Fourth of July. There's no special food or candy like all the "big" holidays. There isn't even the expectation of the exchange of meaningless cards like Valentine's day. No Labor Day is a useless holiday good only for sleeping-in (which in itself makes the day worthwhile but certainly not better than Christmas). But the event to which I refer is not Labor Day itself, but usually takes place NEAR Labor Day. I am of course referring to *dun,dun, duuuuuummmmmmm*

THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!

That glorious day where Parents scrub three months of dirt off their children, put them in new clothes that are presentable and slightly too big, and send them off for someone else to deal with for eight hours of the day. It is a glorious day that signals the end of the endless months of bickering that are the summer. Or at least when they bicker they're doing it somewhere else. *sigh* I love the first day of school.

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In the past I have only had to scrub down Pork Chop and send her on her merry way. She loves school. She loves books, and music classes, and learning. She loves recess, and gym, and lunch with her friends. She loves everything about it. At school she shines. I send her forth into the world with confidence that she will brighten what ever corner she lands in.

But this year was different. I sent my little man as well.

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I was not as prepared to send him forth into the world. The kindergarten questionnaire asked what your child does not like. I wrote "sharing." The Greatest and I are quite certain we will get to know the Principal on a first name basis this year, and it won't be at the awards ceremony (which is the only time we see the Principal with Pork Chop).

So with great trepidation we took Meaty to buy a new shirt for the first day of school. We stood in the aisle for ten minutes while he painfully selected the perfect backpack (because you know, the earth might implode if he makes the wrong decision). We gave him the traditional going-to-school shearing. After five years with him we had done all we could to prepare him to go forth into the world of academics.

Yesterday was the first day of school. Since it was the first day of school I walked Meaty to his classroom. The kindergartners have their own fenced playground. They swarmed around it in their striped polo shirts and neatly-pressed dressed. They weren't playing together, but they were nervously eye-ing one another. Meaty had been dying to play on the equipment. I gave my consent, he handed me his most-perfect-of-perfect backpacks, and with nary a backwards glance he was gone. I watched him disappear in the sea of shiny-faced little ones and something in my chest broke. Possibly an apron string? A connection I had with my little man that was mine and mine alone. He is no longer mine. He is his own.

I am excited for him. All the things he will learn, the friends he will make, the adventures he will have. I know he will grow and blossom and shine, like his sister but also not like his sister, he'll shine in his own special way. I'm excited to watch him grown and continue to be part of creating who he will be when he is all done. But as I watched him go, for a minute, just for a minute, I want to fold his long little boy legs up in my lap and keep him there forever, smelling his sweet puppy dog scent (side note, why does he smell like a wet puppy after he's had a bath?).

When the bell rang the Principal did make an appearance on the playground. He told us all to go home. He assured us that the school had our phone number on file and would call us if there was a problem. I spent the day anxiously awaiting a phone call. But no call came. At 1:15 (it was early release) I went to the school to pick up my children. Aside from one little snag where school was over and Meaty just left instead of staying in the kindergarten fence to wait for me (imagine my surprise when I found him down past the parking lot by the road) we all survived the first day of school. Pork Chop declared her teacher to be the best teacher EVER. And Meaty has consented to return (which is really all I was hoping for at this point).

So the first day of school was surprisingly bitter sweet this year. Exciting for all they'll learn and do. Melancholy to watch them grow. The paradox of being a parent.

7 comments:

Aubrey said...

Hi! I don't know if I've ever introduced myself but my name is Aubrey Cozzens and I'm in your ward and both of our children are going to kindergarten at Westpark this year. You're a terrific writer! I absolutely know how you feel. It's painful for me to let Haley go, but she loved school. And that is really scary that your son was all the way down by the road when you got there. I think I would talk to his teacher. It's nice to meet you.

lynda said...

Aaah, the first day of school! I'm looking forward to it next week, even though mine are in college! Oy.... It's a lot pricer, though.

Did they run that Staples (I think) commercial in your part of the country where the dad is dancing through the school supplies aisle with the shopping cart and they're playing the song, "It's the most wonderful time of the year...." ? It's always been one of my favorite commercials!

My nephew didn't make it his first year of kindergarten. Not so much for following the directions yet. The teacher said, "Oh yes, he had a wonderful day... it was just not the same day the rest of us had!"

Stephanie said...

WOW, school started early for you! We don't start until Aug 26th. Michael is playing football this year, you should see him in his pads! It's so great! Connor also starts kindergarten as well! I can't wait. He's become my little attitude child so I am concerned for him too...he never SHUTS UP! lol

So glad to see you all are doing so well! Miss ya!

shiguy4076 said...

i must admit that I felt a little bit of anxiety touch me when I realized meaty was at school. He will forever be 2 to me. I'm so glat that the first day went well. It is bittersweet to let them go and grow. where does the time go??

Bezzie said...

Oof. YOu're singing my song. Chunky goes to 1st grade this year. But it's the public school and it's big and it's different and it seems more "real" than the private kindergarten we had him in.

I'm sure I could post this identical post (just change the names and up the grade a year) in three weeks! UGH!

Christy D. said...

Ooooh! I'm so jealous that your school started already! Ours doesn't start until the 25th. :( I still have 2 more weeks of bickering...

rita said...

My daughter has the same feeling you do, that when her son starts kindergarten next year, she'll be on a speed-dial basis with the principal.

He's going into his second year of preschool, but he's got very definite ideas about things......