Kids on Their First Day of School

Today, they’re officially Yellow Jackets. New schools, new uniforms, new system, new state, new lunch codes, new student IDs. Sam is less than thrilled with his uniform. Collars? Shorts with buttons and zippers? You might as well ask him to wear a hairshirt. The second he spotted an untucked shirt at the high school, his became untucked as well. I’ll be shocked if the belt makes it through the day.

Their start times are all within 10 minutes of each other… at 3 different schools… with a less-than-stellar traffic infrastructure. You know what that means? Stressed out me behind the wheel. Driving over curbs. Running red lights. I wanted to leave by 7:00. We didn’t pull out of the driveway till 7:06. That nearly put me over the edge.

We were the quintessential dorks today — at my request, Chris and I both drove them all to school. Sam rolled his eyes when he found out we were all going together.

“God, Mom, you’re so embarrassing,” he said. “Why do you BOTH have to come?”

I assured him I would yell, “I love you, Sammy!” at the top of my lungs when he was exiting the car. He does not find me amusing. Especially before 7:00 AM.

I was overly chatty during the drive.

“If you guys have any questions, make sure you ASK someone.”

“Advocate for yourselves.”

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help or directions.”

“Don’t panic if I’m late picking you up — I will probably get caught in traffic.”

“Don’t lose your lunch money. If you can deposit it all into your accounts, go ahead and do that.”

“Listen to the announcements so you’re aware of everything that’s happening.”

“Introduce yourselves to your classmates.”

“Make sure your shorts are zipped.”

“Jesus, Katrina,” Chris interjected. “You’re making ME nervous. No one is as uptight about this school day as you are.”

And it’s true.

The kids are fine. They marched into their buildings like troopers. They’ll make their way.

And I’ll worry all day long.

Will they make new friends? Will they cry if they get lost? Will they get shoved into the wall because they’re the new kids? Will they be able to get their lockers open? Will they get flattened during dodge ball? Will they have “Kick Me” notes taped to their backs? Will they get nervous and throw up during math class? That would scar them for life. After all, everyone remembers The School Puker.

I’ve never been this anxious about school. Never. Not even when they ventured off to kindergarten for the first time.

But this is different. Here, there’s no safety net. There are no familiar faces.

Eventually, there will be. But today? Today, I’m going to need a little Maalox.

It’s quiet without them. I’ll embrace that quiet soon enough. And I’m sure I’ll mourn it when it’s gone next summer. But today, the silence is filled with my worry and apprehension and anxiety. (Yes, Jenny, I’m worrying. I know it’s pointless. But I’m wrapping my arms around the worry right now, am embracing it, am kissing it on the lips.)

Chris and I enjoyed a little City Bagel Cafe together after the  morning drop-offs. That’s a new experience for us. When he was in public school administration, he was normally up and gone with the sunrise. I always drank my coffee solo. The time we now have together is a gift that I’m so very grateful for. And when I stop hyperventilating, it will be that much more enjoyable.

And when the kids come home and say everything was fine, I’ll be able to exhale again.

And we’ll head to Local Culture for some yogurt and we’ll laugh and we’ll de-brief.

Tonight, I’ll sign forms and fill out paperwork and check their backpacks for homework. And when drop-off rolls around again tomorrow morning, what was so shiny and new and unfamiliar today will look a teeny-tiny bit more like home.

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