First Day of School 2016

Today was Liam’s first day of school. Late last night, I vocalized my incredible success, “I pulled it all together!” My arms flew over my head in Rocky-like victory. It was a solo celebration. No one else seemed as excited as I was.

At 10 p.m. last night, I found Liam’s summer reading book about St. Benedict; it has been missing all summer. Earlier this week, we borrowed a copy from a friend so Liam could be prepared for the first day of class; then an email from the teacher two days ago indicated that her students would actually use the book the first day for an assignment, aka: Liam needed his copy.

I extracted all contents of Liam’s cubby and dumped them into a laundry basket, dug through his crate in the living room, and fingered individual titles on his living room bookshelf. Desperate, I moved to Will’s book shelves. And there it was – on a bookshelf, of all places! The wrong shelf, but on a book shelf! Who is this Mom?

Similarly, Liam's other summer read, Little House in the Big Woods, appeared. From Liam’s crate. But this wasn’t as big a kudos as it wasn’t really lost, just internally misplaced as I had seen it within the last week. Unlike St. Benedict, who had disappeared like a modern miracle upon entering our enclave.

The jumbo book covers from last year dropped into the laundry basket when I scooped out Liam’s cubby. Sure that they were in the house, I had chosen not to repurchase these. But as I laid my hands on them, I remembered Liam’s science book from last year: The book cover was so tight, the front cover would suddenly spring open when the book was just sitting on the table. That took a little getting used to. So, I’m not sure these are really jumbo book covers. Nevertheless, I stuff them in the outside pocket of Liam’s backpack.

At 9:30 last night, I reminded Liam that he still needed to try on his black sneakers to make sure they fit. “You are doing that now? Shouldn’t that have been done this morning?” Bill suggested. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the last 6 pages of the 12-page summer math packet and taken nearly six hours to complete that day.

At 10:15 last night, I remembered the first day of school was a Class A uniform day, formal uniform. I found the good black shoes in Liam’s closet and set them in his room for the next day. To complete this uniform, we just needed a belt – which had also fallen out of the cubby! Ahh… when the stars are in alignment!

As Liam went to bed, I asked him to get dressed when he woke up – before he came down stairs. He did! After explaining that it was a Class A day, I sent him back up for the black dress shoes. They fit. He came down with white socks on and his shirt tucked in. Black socks, please.

Seeing summer boys transform to school boys warms my heart. They look so good in tidy, new clothes. That match. That aren’t stained. That aren't ripped. That aren't too short.

When we pulled up to Liam’s school, he saw a friend being dropped off. “Hi, Michael! Wait for me!” And our last words were, “Could you close the door for me, Mom?” Followed by my nearly unheard, “Have fun!”

I watched as he walked into school with his buddy. They were 5th graders now. And all of them were dressed in the 5th grade Class A shirt, tie, and pants. Except for Liam. Still, he was near perfection in his 4th grade Class A polo shirt, shorts, and black shoes.

As for Will, he and I had a mature heart to heart over the weekend. He is nearly 13 and started 8th grade yesterday. While I had been nudging his independence, I verbally turned the reins over to him, and in just two days, he has stepped up to the challenge. Preparing for school every day – from showering and picking up the bathroom to brushing teeth and getting breakfast – is up to him, and he needs to plan for getting up in time to do what he needs to do.

No longer will I say, “Brush your teeth.” Just know that the consequence of not brushing is dentures at the age of 50. No longer will I say, “Pick up the bathroom.” Know that your future partner will not like this habit. No longer will I pound on my bedroom floor at 11 p.m. as a signal for him to get to bed. No longer will I suggest when he does his homework.

Life is changing. Kids are growing up. And, honestly, I don’t have the brain power to micro-manage more than one child to near perfection, for Linda Malcolm, the writer,  is knocking at the door.

Happy Hump Day!