Saturday, August 17, 2013

It's Back to School Time - Should I Feel Guilty For Being Happy? Nah.

 School started this week; the boy's first day of first grade was Wednesday. We had gone to back to school night the previous week, where we got to see the classroom, meet the teacher, find his locker, etc. (He discovered his best friends from Kindergarten were not only in his class, but sitting nearby. We gave the teacher a heads-up on that.) Tuesday night we packed his new backpack with supplies, made his lunch, picked out a first-day outfit, and capped off summer by reading the last few pages of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" at bedtime.

 I thought there might be some whining and feet-dragging on the big day, but he was up before the alarm, dressed and eating breakfast in a reasonable amount of time. Since I had allowed for an unreasonable amount of time, he got plenty of playtime with his sister after breakfast. Surprisingly, when it was time to go instead of the expected stalling and bargaining for more time, all I got was "Well, I guess I got all the play out of me," as he picked up his backpack and headed for the car.

 At school, we walked him to the door where they line up, (same as last year, Kindergartners to the right, first graders to the left) and when his best friend from last year came right behind us, listened in on a typical seven-year-old conversation. ("Look, I lost my teeth!" "I got a different haircut!" "My sister still doesn't talk much." "Mine either.") And then the bell rang, the lines of kids filed through the door, and as the Kindergarten parents cried sentimental tears, the first-grader parents high-fived each other and skipped merrily off down the street, free for another nine months.

 Well, not really - though there were a few covert smiles exchanged. The little girl and I had such a wonderfully relaxing morning. I got to drink coffee and watch "Rachel Ray" while getting an oil change as she played happily on the iPad - no arguing over who got to play first. We wandered through the grocery store with no fighting over whose turn it was to put something in the cart, no pushing, poking or kicking. At home, we played blocks uninterrupted by a seven-year-old Godzilla crashing through the construction project. And at nap time, she went down without a fuss since there was no chattering voice to remind her she was missing out on playtime.

 Not that she didn't miss him. Every once in a while she'd ask "Where potty?" or call up or down the stairs "Potty, where are you?" (She calls her brother Potty. Has since she started to talk, we have no idea why. He laughed the first time and it stuck. We told him it wouldn't be as funny when he was in high school, but some things you just have to learn the hard way...)

 Not that I didn't miss him, too. It seemed unusually quiet in the afternoon. That's when I started to feel a little guilty about how much I enjoyed my  first boy-free morning of the school year. Maybe while I was relaxing with coffee and the newspaper, he was struggling with his locker, or afraid to use the big-kid bathroom down the hall. Maybe he forgot how to spell his name over the summer (we could probably have practiced writing more).

 Nothing to worry about, though; when I picked him up, his teacher gave a thumbs-up, and he immediately announced, "I had so much fun, I almost forgot I was at school!" He then went on to tell me "The frog stopped jumping right after the day started." This required some elaboration. I at first thought he was talking about a classroom pet, (possibly one that had died!) but after extensive questioning he explained that, no, the frog was in his tummy, because he was nervous. (Explained with eye-rolling exasperation at my inability to figure this out. Have you noticed that talking to a seven-year-old is like trying to piece together a series of non-sequitors into some sort of coherent order? Or maybe that's just my seven-year-old.)

 So the first week went great, before long we'll be back in our routine, and I'm not going to feel guilty about enjoying how easy it is to do errands with just one rugrat in tow. Especially since Christmas break will be here before you know it.

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