Thursday, September 2, 2010


It has taken me nearly a month to get around to talking about the first day of school. The first day or two were great. Then the fatigue and routine set in and the tantrums came out. Now we've settled in and are all a lot happier, so I can talk about it.

The first day of school for Ainsleigh was a little surreal for me. I remember exactly what I wore on the first day of third grade. I remember what my teacher looked like and what the room was like. I remember feeling self conscious and looking at some cool kids and wondering if they'd be friends with me. So that morning, I looked at Ainsleigh and tried not to hyperventilate as she calmly joined her friends, smiled at me, waved goodbye after a hug and a kiss, and confidently walked into the school.

Later that day I took Donovan for his getting-to-know-you hour. It wasn't really a first day of school for him since I was there and it was short and he got RECESS. Always the recess. But it was good for Dono since he had confided in me that on Sunday afternoon when he was in his room by himself, "I cwied a wittle bit when I thought about going to school because I'm a wittle afwaid."

But the next day - his first REAL day of school - instead of dragging his feet as he had the previous day, he kept asking if I'd walk a little faster so he wouldn't be late. And there he walked, up to his line. He turned back to give me a zillion hugs and a few kisses. I told him to be the best Donovan and he smiled and waved and then he was gone.

Gemma and I walked home, I put her down for her nap, and then I did something I'm not proud of. I ate lunch (that's not the shameful part) and then...then I played video games and ate cornuts. What am I - a 13 year old boy?! Apparently that's all my brain could handle. And when it was 3:45 I was flying out the door to race back and gather my babies and bring them home and keep them there forever.

Turns out, they both love their classes. They've gone back to school every day since. And it's a good thing. I know a lot of people count the days down until their kids go back to school - and I'm happy with the idea of them in school. But in practice, my heart aches.

Some of that might be because my mom and dad are driving my youngest brother to college this weekend. After 34 years of packing lunches and driving to soccer practice and teaching six kids how to do laundry and make beds and be respectable people (any failure on our part is no reflection on her), my mom doesn't have any more children at home. And while this is a time of celebration, it is also a time to mourn. I think of my brother Dave and how I was there when he came out and got to hold him when he was minutes old. I think about how he was the cutest stinkin kid (emphasis on the STINK) on the planet and how heart-wrenching it was for me to go to college when he was two years old. I think about how the last 18 years have been but a moment and if that's what it has been to me, what must it feel like to my parents?

So when Donovan comes flying into the living room and slips and goes ker-splat on the wood and starts crying because maybe his arm is about to fall off, I don't even hesitate to gather him into my lap and cuddle him. I am a little disappointed to see he doesn't fit there quite like he used to. That, sitting on my lap, his head is up past my shoulder and he seems to be more arms and legs every day. But you know what - he comes to me first. They all come to me first. Just like we still go to my mom.

I'm trying really hard to savor the moments now, because too painfully soon we'll be driving him to college. The first day of school is bittersweet. But I'm getting the feeling that that's what most of parenting is.

Except for potty-training - that's just sweet.


Alice said...

I had a mullet in 3rd grade. It was pretty awful.

Natalie said...

Here I sit, laughing and crying. I love that you don't try to look like perfect little mommy on your blog, you admit you played video games & ate crap in the middle of the day! Love it, love that little guy's freckles too! p.s. I spy on your blog from my sister Hillary. My mom is Lorrie, I'm Joel's cousin.

Anne said...

i am totally crying right now...and i love it when my kids go off to school. beautiful post, sarah.

Katie Ross said...

I don't even have kids in school yet and I love your post! Having kids a little later in life and such a hard time getting them here makes we want to pause everyday and never see them grow up. But I think that remote was lost a long time ago. Time flies WAY to fast!

wanda said...

I think your first day of third grade was harder/more memorable because you were starting a new school and had all of those insecure feelings that go with that situation.

laura said...

I would like to come play Lego HP and eat corn nuts with you. Thank you.

Melin said...

That was just great--as always you captured it perfectly!

Although corn nuts? Seriously, where is the chocolate? That's real pain, corn nuts is just, I don't know...odd

Why does Dono look like a man in the last picture because the pictures of him in the summer he looked like a little kid. What the?