Monday, September 2, 2013

More Back to School

Life is Good: even on no sleep!

Remember my "night before kindergarten" post? Well, we made it through the first day! And by "we", I mean me! There was no doubt that the big kid would shine. And he did! I, however, am not a morning person, but at 5:45, I rallied. The big kid was able to awaken happily (thank you, God!) and eat breakfast quicker than usual (sigh of relief) and we made it to the bus stop (less than a block away) with time to spare. The bus was seven minutes late, so we had plenty of time to take pictures and chat with our mama friend who lives one street over and has a first grader at the same school.

Our big kid jumped on the bus with a smile. And then we jumped into the car to meet it at school! When he stepped off of the bus, he was grinning from ear to ear. He gave his teacher the giant banana bread muffin we made for her and bounced off.

We discovered that some old neighbors of ours have a son in our big kid's class, so that was fun. We chatted about how the kids had grown, introduced them to the little one, and determined we should get out of the classroom so that everyone could settle in. We took one step toward the big kid and he yelled from across the room, "Goodbye!" with a wave. Grant and I smiled at each other and then walked across the room for a hug. He may not have needed it, but we did!

As we started to walk out, a little girl in the class, red-faced, burst into tears and hung on to the teacher. My heart ached for her. I said a little prayer for her on the way home. I hoped that she did okay the rest of the day. Later, during nighttime prayers, the big kid told me about her. He said that she missed her mama, but "Brown Bear" in the classroom gave her hugs and helped her feel better. Foster, the stuffed kangaroo, is in the classroom, too, "in case you skin your knee or something like that."

As we walked out of the doors of the school, Grant and I laughed at how quickly the big kid dismissed us. This is the response every parent wants, right? A sign of confidence, security, and excitement. We are so very grateful. The past two years of preschool have served him well. His school last year was especially nurturing and prepared him well for this day. (Shout out to his awesome teachers last year...if he could have you until high school, we would be thrilled!) It is my hope and prayer that he will always go to school with such enthusiasm.

It was a strange morning for the little one and me. The morning started sooooo early and yet flew by. Every once in a while, our little guy would ask where his brother was and point upstairs or out the door. We missed big brother, but it was really lovely to have the one-on-one time again, too. As much as I will miss the big kid, I know that this year will be a precious bonding time for our little guy and me. I have always had "second child guilt"--he has never had the undivided attention that our first born received, but the time we spend when big brother is in school makes me feel a little less guilty. Kind of. Sort of. For a quick moment. And right now, our 25-month old is bursting with words and personality, so it is an especially fun time in his life!

In celebration of back to school, I let the little one pull out practically every toy on our first floor. And then he decided he needed a costume to enjoy them all properly. This is the best photo I could snag of him. The lighting wasn't right, but he was too busy and the other ones are blurry! Please note, he needed TWO super hero capes. He is that super.

When our big kid got home, I greeted him with our first day of school tradition...a big cookie!

His first year of school, I decorated it with "preschool" on it and last year, with the name of his (new) school. So this year, it was "kindergarten! and the year", of course! (I should have taken the picture frosting color ran. Big kid didn't care, so why should I !?!)

He was excited to see it and then I cut it like a pizza so that he could have a couple of "slices". I love traditions and I came up with this one because my mom used to make "big cookies" for my teachers when I was in elementary school. She would use a cake pan in the shape of a heart and then fill it with chocolate chip cookie dough (when you cut it, the pieces were like "bars" or brownies). I remember the teachers reactions...they were always excited to get the big cookie. So this tradition of the big cookie on the first day of school is an homage to my mom and for that matter, her mama, too, who was a magnificent baker and taught my mom all that she knows. Here's a picture of them both that I love.

We also have a tradition of a picture in front of our brick orange door and a photo on the sidewalk with "first day of..." written in chalk on the sidewalk (see above). After three years, it is fun to see the differences in the pictures. Most notably, our big kid barely had any hair when he started preschool at three. And it was so light blonde that you could barely see what was there! Now, he is only about 13 inches shorter than I am and has a head full of curls.

I loved hearing about the first day. Apples and oranges for snack, playing with puzzles with so-and-so and on the playground with this one and that, going to Science Class (already!) then making buildings out of blocks with another kid. I also got the low down on who listened and who did not including a kid who "head butt kicked--that's a real thing you can do, you know?" another child and had to take a break. As usual, I got all of the scoop. Please, God, can he always be so informative and open!

Having the first day of kindergarten couldn't be enough for us, though! It also had to be the Open House for the new playroom that the little one will start going to one morning a week. AND the last t-ball lesson for the year.

The big kid loved t-ball this summer. He really blossomed--learning to field ground balls and really go after it.

Little brother had a hard time watching from the sidelines. He always wants to be in the middle of things and t-ball was no different.

I had prepared the family that the evening would need to be timed perfectly and I secretly worried that we wouldn't get home in time to have a relaxed, unrushed bedtime. I try so hard not to schedule things back to back. I feel like keeping a balanced schedule, keeps the peace. And on my own, finding balance has always been my Achilles heal, so I am especially sensitive about this with our family.

On our way to t-ball, we learned that the Minneapolis School District had decided to cancel school for Thursday and Friday due to the extreme heat and lack of air conditioning in some classrooms and some schools. We were having a really moderate summer until the past week when it hit 90+ degrees with equally high dew points. It appears that a lot of parents complained about the decision to start school in this weather and the district agreed after most students had been in school three days (and kindergarteners, one).

The big kid was super disappointed that there would be no school (is this really MY kid?) but his dad and I sighed with relief that the evening would be less hurried. (And I did a happy dance in my head that I would get to have the big kid home for two more days...and that wake up time could be 6:30 AM and not any earlier!)

We have really enjoyed the past several days together. We made art (of course), played with dinosaurs (of course), and sent astronauts and ourselves into space many times (of course). We played "Obstacles" and Simon Says and hide-and-go seek. We sang songs, had dance parties, made up rhymes, and told tall tales. We rode bikes, visited the Arboretum, ate frozen yogurt tubes, and read lots and lots of books. And I savored every moment. Filing it away in a safety deposit box in my mind. These moments are like jewels--they are my greatest treasures. Truly.

Tomorrow, the big kid starts his first four-day week of kindergarten, so tonight is another "night before the first day of kindergarten" in a way. And oh, what a difference a week makes! Sure, I am going to dread the alarm clock, be anxious about making him miss the bus, and I am going to miss that big kid like crazy. But I got through it last Wednesday. And I will get through it tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. It's what we mamas do. We do what's best for our children. We put ourselves second. Or third. Or most often, last. We cheer them on. We smile the widest. We listen with the greatest intent. We open the door and let them fly. We share our treasures, our children, with the world so that they might flourish and the world, benefit. And the sun goes up and the sun goes down. And we get used to it. And I will get used to it.

“Making the decision to have a child - it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” (Elizabeth Stone)

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