Every last grain of sand is vacuumed from the car. We have two lists, four kids (Maisy’s mandatory “can I please bring a friend” friend,) and several coupons and reward cards for various stores.
It even felt like fall this morning–crisp, cool, bright.
We stroll through store after store picking up the right 2 inch binder (not 1 1/2,) glue sticks, #2 pencils, erasers, pens, highlighters and reams upon reams of loose leaf. Maisy is required to have a specific Texas Instrument calculator. $100 please. How can you put a price on my child’s education. $100 calculator for the 13 year-old it is.
Maisy is giddy. As in—almost manic. I am concerned. She is skipping, talking loudly, and running around the store exchanging this folder for that folder.
She is visibly shaken as the sales clerk tells her they no longer carry “5 Star” folders. “But, I-I-I got them here last year…” I convince her that a folder brand will likely not impact her academic performance.
Sam is moping. I think his hands actually graze the floor a few times. He is disinterested enough to show me a hot pink binder and say “This OK Mom?”
“Honey, that is PINK.”
“Oh. OK. I’ll keep looking then.”
Hadley is just crying.
“Why don’t I get a binder?”
“Where am I going to put MY papers?”
” I will so have work to do!”
” Maisy! YOU ARE MEAN!”
Meanwhile my head throbs.
On the way home, we recite the “Beginning of the School Year Creed.”
“We will use that giant dry erase calendar. Every kid will get a color–Yes Hadley yours can be pink. We will write down all homework, projects, and activities on that board. The laundry room will be reorganized. Each kid will get a hook for their back pack and a cubby for their shoes. All homework will be done in bedrooms on the nice neat desks we have provided. We will get off the bus and have a small snack and then immediately do homework. We will start projects the day they are assigned. Our home will be a quiet, organized, learning haven. ”
On the first day of school, they will all get off the bus sweaty, hungry and tired. I will NOT have gotten home in time for the bus as promised. As I race up the hill just behind the bus, my kids will give me the first “we knew you would be late” look of the year. I will not have fresh fruit and milk for snacks. Sam will try to eat the slice of left over pizza left in the box by the trash. After THAT screaming match. I will sit down with my coffee/wine and begin filling out the fifteen pieces of paper all asking the same questions. I will invariably forget to check the box that says it is ok to give my kid Tylenol. The nurse will be calling me.
By the end of the first week, the dry erase board will be graffiti laden. Hadley will have accidently used a Sharpie to draw on it instead of a dry erase marker. The hooks in the laundry room will be littered with bags of items to be returned. These items will find their way to Good Will by Christmas with the tags still on.
At least once in the first month, I will be shamelessly begging a teacher for another copy of whatever worksheet. “I know you are not going to believe this but ….our dog..actually ate it.” Lucy will also chew the corners off of at least ten library books. Those coupled with the twelve we cannot find before the year is out will result in our financing the new library wing. We will not receive a plaque.
By winter break, we will have completed at least one project at 1 am—7 hours before it is due. Maisy will have lost her $100 calculator and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth at the injustice of using her own money to replace it. A politely worded email from Hadley’s teacher will ask us to “please work on shoe tying and coat zippering.” Sam will have gotten to school at least once in his slippers-”I couldn’t find my shoes Mom!”
We will miss at least one of the three parent -teacher conferences–ideally it will be Maisy’s. Her teachers just perpetually look shell-shocked upon meeting us. “YOU are Maisy’s parents? She is an amazing girl!” Translated: How does your daughter manage to have her sh$% together when you two look like you were just caught in a tornado? If we make it to Hadley’s conference, her teacher will ask us to get her hearing checked. “She just doesn’t seem to be able to follow instructions.” Chris and I will nod in thanks and on the way to the car will reassure each other. “Oh. She can hear fine…she’s just bad.”
Spring will find me begging for a vacation. We will inadvertently schedule it during PSSA’s. We will get a letter from the principal explaining the importance of being in school the ENTIRE 180 days. Chris will delete my email response before I fire it off.
I am not a pessimist. I have just done this a few times.