The First Day Of School

09.9.09

I drove them to school this morning, leaving the house promptly at 7.45. Today might be the only day that my children will hop out of bed without an argument, don their uniforms and rush to the counter for breakfast. We were out the door with time to spare and then it happened.

I realized that this is our life and summer is over.

I asked the kids if they felt nervous about their first day of school. Alexander said he’d have, “more changes than anyone ever could.” And he went on to talk about how he would have to change clothes for PE now that he’s in third grade. Jane promptly replied, “that’s nothing, I’m the oldest kid in the lower school now that I’m in fifth grade.”

That’s when I had driving issues. I had to use that stupid Lamaze breath that they tried to teach me before I dropped out.

“What do you mean you’re the oldest kid?” I asked Jane.

“I’m in fifth grade Mom, that makes me the oldest kid in school.” She grinned.

I had a moment, this fleeting urge to redirect the car, pick my husband up from work and begin our lives as homeschooling survivalists, where we could spend our days and nights together. Every piece of me wanted to freeze them, just as they were to just hug them and love them and tell them that 10 and 8 are perfect ages, and just stop growing.

My son remains an absolute mystery to me. He talks and I listen to his words and watch his mouth move and I think my goodness, is he mine? How did he appear here? Will anyone in the world love him as much as I do? Alexander and I are so different, he’s given me a new lens for the world.

And Jane just sends me back in time. I watch her stop to think for a moment and I know the words before they leave her lips. She’s my daughter, everything she does makes sense to me, there was never a moment that I  didn’t understand her needs, wants, hopes and fear. Knowing is what terrifies me.

I brought the kids onto campus, watched them find their friends and pick up where they left off in June. I eyeballed the teachers and the parents and exhaled, perhaps a little too loudly, knowing that my children are in an incredible environment. The peer group is splendid, the parents are devoted and the teachers are bright and engaged. It felt okay.

Just not good, because, you know… they didn’t invite me, and I love those kids best.