It’s been interesting reading so many moms write about the back-to-school experience in the past few weeks. So many parallels to my own feelings. One aspect of motherhood seems universal: no matter where we live or where our kids go to school, we worry about how it will go for them. Here are a few musings on the kids going back to school. These are just snippets, click on the title to read the whole post.
To me, having to use something other than peanut butter or no nut butters at all is an extremely minor inconvenience compared to the possible result. A dead kid. I grew up with a dairy allergy now turned sensitivity and dealt with the similar with Quinlan, but I can’t imagine how frightening it must be to have such a severe allergy to a nut. A teeny tiny not really that tasty nut. But what frightens me more is the anger that people have about having to compromise.
In the few days since school has started there have been a lot of adjustments—new routines, new responsibilities, new schedules. It’s all been good, but I look at myself—making lunches, filling out paperwork, talking with teachers, planning for my first PTA meeting—and I can hardly believe it. Is this . . . ME? I suppose that sounds a little ridiculous, but I don’t know how else to say it, really. It’s just sort of a momentous sort of thing, this new rite of motherhood. One that stirs up a strange swirl of old memories and associations and makes me wonder if I’m even remotely qualified for this shit. It’s funny, I expected to be overwhelmed by the milestone of my child starting school, but I didn’t quite realize what an enormous new role it would be for me, too.
For starters, we are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don’t fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer. I have become used to some parents who just don’t want to hear anything negative about their child, but sometimes if you’re willing to take early warning advice to heart, it can help you head off an issue that could become much greater in the future.
I could feel school looming and squeezing and growing larger, out of focus for awhile but directly in front of me now. I miss my kids and they haven’t left me yet. I am grateful for this chance to spend time alone with the baby. He needs me to look him in the face at eye level for more minutes of the day. I am happy I get to talk to him in mama-language and spend 20 minutes (in a row!) trying to get him to say one word. I am glad for that. I also need this break. Having three kids in under four years makes your brain feel like it’s about to fall out. I actually need this break for my mental health. I think the entire house — the floors and surfaces and walls and everything– will sigh in relief because there will finally be a stretch of time where someone isn’t spilling something on it. But how am I going to sleep tonight?
Show of hands: who hates making school lunches every weekday? I can’t see you, but I know you’re out there, and I can smell your disdain. My people. So you’re up at the ass-crack of dawn, doing your best to roust a sleepy child, get them dressed, get yourself caffeinated, have said child brush their teeth and practice some semblance of hygiene, all before hurrying out the door so as to not miss the school bus. On top of doing all that, you have to make a nutritious(-ish) lunch for your kid, because the reality is that kids can’t live on rectangular school cafeteria pizzas alone (no matter that rectangular school cafeteria pizzas are made by virgins and taste like sunshine and the laughter of children). You care, dammit.
Normal people handle their kids going off to kindergarten with grace, don’t they? Not me. I sat through the whole meeting with Tori’s new teacher (who is just a total gem, by the way) with my heart racing, my hands shaking, and the vague sense that a panic attack wasn’t too far off.
Educating our kids is a huge responsibility. We want to do it well. When we were deciding whether or not to stay in Haiti and both of us work for Heartline (Aaron full-time and me as much as I can do so and still do this mom-thing as well as any flawed human can) the education element seemed impossible. We didn’t feel like we could homeschool well here on our own. Life is too difficult on this island. Unexpected things come up every single day. We knew if we homeschooled without help our kid’s educations would suffer. We didn’t want that for them. We also didn’t want our kids in the car for several hours every day in order to go to the school where Aaron taught last year. And if I’m being totally honest…we’re homeschoolers at heart. We know it’s not for everyone, but it is definitely where the Lord has led us for these particular kids growing up in this home. It seemed like the only logical thing for our family to do was go back to the US and either stay there or figure out how to do missions without our kids turning into major dummies.
The wall was lined with smiling parents, and the kids all seemed bubbly and ready to go. As the time came for us to leave, Finn got more and more nervous and then began to cry. I signaled for Dave to take over, and then grabbed Fred (who was ready to enter kindergarten that very day, judging by his enthusiasm for the space) and ran. I made it out the door to the playground and out of view of the classroom window before I burst into tears. Holy f==k. I laughed while I cried, because there I was, the living cliche, the brand-new kindergarten mom beside herself. Dave followed in a couple of minutes, and reported that Mr. Norman had swooped in to comfort Finn and to show him to the "Peace Corner", a groovy little spot in the classroom with a tiny couch and books and a big peace sign hanging on the wall above a basket of stuffed animals. Ian had asked, "Is he crying?" and Mr. Norman responded sweetly, "Yeah, sure he is. It’s his first time going to school, so it’s a big thing for him."
No movie holds more sway in the minds of ladies who came of age in the 1990s than Clueless. We pined for Cher’s wardrobe of totally important designer dresses, seemingly large vocabulary, glossy locks, hot step brother, hosiery, endless supply of lemon Snapples and, most of all, her computer-generated outfit match-maker. Now a good 16 years later (whaat?), most of those things have lost their luster, but the very idea of Cher still looms larger than life.