I’m so happy for Wednesday. You know why? Because it’s the second day of school.
When I was the kid, I liked the first day. I liked it for about two week before it happened. I loved the shopping, the new first-day outfit, the lists to fill. As the parent, I can really only feel about the first day the way that my kids feel about it. My freshman has been under a black cloud of dread for about a week and a half. It’s like the Sunday night blues times adolescence times nine months’ worth of Mondays. My eighth-grader, an ambassador this year at the school where he is now the oldest, felt so confident going into the new year that he didn’t really need me. I didn’t have to go to any orientations, not a single meet-and-greet, no major pile of school supplies to proudly present like frankincense and myrrh. (Behold, all our notebooks are 100-page, our pencils #2, our wet-wipes non-generic. We nailed it.) Yeah, none of that. So, basically, it was impossible to feel excited for the former and uninspiring to get all that jumpy about the latter.
Then, there is my third-grader. Like the freshman, he’s at a new building this year. He will be the youngest class again instead of the oldest. As of the night before the first day, this one was still asking if he could ride his bike to and from school and do away with that pesky parental involvement thing altogether. By the time we pulled into his new parking lot? “I’m nervous. What if I do the wrong thing and get in trouble? What if I don’t know where to go?” When I said I would take him inside he said, AND I QUOTE, “But that might be embarrassing.” I took him anyway, but let me tell you, that You’ve Got Mail, it-makes-me-want-to-buy-school-supplies feeling that usually accompanies this time of year for me – when my third-grader skidded toward panic but did not want me to fix it, that feeling made way to a big, fat Please Dear God Let This Day End Quickly.
It did eventually end – though not nearly soon enough for me. (No more working on first days of school. I won’t do it! You can’t make me!) And, then, you won’t believe it. What did I get for my anxiety? What met me at the door of that upper elementary in response to my over-the-top relief to finally hear every detail? I’ll tell you what met me: A big, fat, nondramatic “fine.”
I mean, his teacher is “nice” (award-winning, I have actually been told, but third graders don’t so much care about that). He made a friend or two (his desk-mates). He got really fun homework (three things from home that describe you. He chose three different kinds of toys). But, yeah, the overall tone was basically a resounding uneventful.
The eighth-grade ambassador was worn out from all the locker help he provided. Though he did enjoy football practice. The freshman was my saving grace. When he got in the car – after his first day ever of high school plus one three-hour football practice, after which I expected exhaustion and something akin to please don’t make me go back there, I found instead a downright chipper, “That day was not bad at all.” And, my people, that is high praise from that one.
So this year, I’m taking a Second Day of School pic. And I am deeply excited for the first [Wednes]day of school. Because the black cloud is gone, fewer sixth-graders will need locker help, and fine is bound to improve. This is Jake I’m talking about. He doesn’t do fine. He does stressful, and he does amazing. He told me tonight he loved me so much he was going to – “yep, I’m going to do it, I’m going to explode from the awesomeness”. That’s what Jake does. Those first-day jitters just totally threw off his groove, and I cannot wait to have him back tomorrow.