The first day of junior high

First things first, I’m the realest.


That’s something else.

So yesterday was the first day of school.

But, first things first, I need to briefly mention that Caroline played in a soccer tournament all weekend. This information is really not pertinent to anything else I plan to write about today but I need to share it so you will know that I spent the weekend feeling somewhere between the range of surface of the sun and Amazon jungle hot.

I know of what I speak because when I was in the Amazon a few years back I had no doubt that I’d never been hotter in my life. The only differences between sitting at this soccer tournament and being in the Amazon were that I didn’t throw up on a bus, no one acted like a grub worm was an actual meal, and I wasn’t wearing a fishing shirt doused in 100% insecticide. Other than that, it was uncanny.


At one point I laughed at all of us yelling at our kids to “run faster” and “get the ball” and “why are you dragging?” as we sat under our tents and some of us may have broken a sweat just opening up our folding chairs from Academy. There was even one dad I observed who kept moving and kicking his feet like he could control his son’s movements on the field like a virtual reality game. Bless us.

But Caroline had fun and her team came within one goal of winning the whole tournament so that almost made all those hours in the heat worth it.

We got home around six on Sunday night and I have to confess I was feeling pretty pleased with myself because I had the foresight to put a roast in the crockpot earlier in the day. There are really few things in life that make me feel more accomplished than having a meal totally planned out and ready to go at the end of a long day. Which makes me wonder why I don’t do it more often. I think it has something to do with the words “planned out”.

However, I am currently embracing the September version of myself and that means I am organized and focused and making meal plans and grocery lists full of nutritious ingredients and experimenting with various all-natural juices to enhance our vitamin intake. This is essentially the high point for me in the entire calendar year and I embrace it because it will give me something to look back on to make myself feel better when we get to the point in the year when I consider the pepperocini that comes with a Papa John’s pizza to be a sufficient vegetable.

Anyway, I was making some mashed potatoes and a salad to go with our roast while simultaneously helping Caroline get her name on all her school supplies and label her dividers according to her schedule (It was like someone might as well have recited the 31st chapter of Proverbs over me.) when P came limping out of the bedroom and declared that he’d pinched a nerve in his back. This never happens in an exciting way. It’s always a matter of bending down to pick up a sock or something. And we know that means about three days of ice packs, lying in bed, and muscle relaxers. Or as I call it, a vacation.

Oh I kid.

My stress level immediately went up when I realized P was having a difficult time just sitting down to the dinner that – I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this – I’d prepared ahead of time in the crockpot. It’s like I was watching his pain get worse and then, insult to injury, he managed to swallow a bone that had found its way into my boneless roast and felt like he was choking. None of this really fit into my night before school agenda. I went from feeling like I was every woman, it’s all in me to being one step away from a Xanax with a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup chaser.

But I eventually got everyone in bed and then spent the night thinking about super important things ranging from Caroline’s first day of school to P’s back and whether he needed to see a doctor to the Madewell transport tote. And before I knew it, the alarm went off and I’d gotten a totally refreshing six minutes of sleep.

On the upside, Caroline decided she wanted to buy her lunch at school instead of bringing a lunch so I really had very little to do besides help her straighten her hair and throw on some clothes that wouldn’t mortify her in case I had to get out of the car for some reason. Sadly, this was to be my last day to not pack a lunch because she reported the line was too long and the food was “just okay”. I wish I had known that was the case and I would have enjoyed it more. But “Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot – for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot!”

We took the obligatory first day of school pictures. Please don’t feel like you have to pin my fabulous, creative first day of school chalkboard on Pinterest.


Oh wait. There is no chalkboard.

Also, please note that there is nothing in those urns but some zinnia remnants that died with my good intentions sometime in late June.

One of Caroline’s best friends rode with us to school so they could walk in together and as we pulled into carpool line and saw all the big kids standing in the courtyard, Caroline said, “Well. This is intimidating.” But she hopped out of the car without a look back and I did my traditional first day of school cry session as I drove to Chick-fil-A to find solace in a chicken biscuit. Then I came home and spent the day trying to figure out if we needed to take P to the doctor until all those muscle relaxers and Advil started to kick in around noon. The good news is it kind of took my mind off of what was possibly going on at the junior high and whether or not she was able to figure out her locker and find her classes and if we’d bought the right folders and all manner of absurd thoughts.

I watched her face as she walked to my car after school and I could immediately tell it had been a good day. She got in the car beaming and declared junior high to be “AMAZING” and “AWESOME” and “PERFECTION”. Her personal favorite were the teachers who said they didn’t believe in giving a lot of homework. But she honestly enjoyed the whole day, had at least a few friends in every class and loved how fast the day went when you change classes every forty-five minutes.

It was better than I could have hoped for.

So we celebrated with a Frappuccino from Starbucks, a new straightening iron from Ulta and at least a half dozen puppy hugs as soon as we got home.


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  1. Leigh says

    It must be the power of suggestion or something, what with Caroline going off to Junior High, but suddenly, today, in these pictures she looks so grown up! Love her hairstyle.

    And, Perry, bless him. Don’t let him speak at a wedding this week :)

    • April Witcher says

      I totally thought the same thing! Makes me want to get the book out and read the story to my husband.

  2. Kathleen G says

    The obligatory first day picture! Caroline is right about the cafeteria food. I worked in the cafeteria, I know. Hope Ps feeling better and the doggies can keep you company. I’m sure they can keep you distracted, they look mischievous. Kathleen in Az

  3. beth says

    Melanie: Ah, yeeeeeeeeeees, Junior High. Been through it 5 times — once in real life and, years later, vicariously, four times. Had a love/hate relationship with it each time. By the fifth time, though, I was downright delighted with pretty much every minute of it! (I must be a slow learner.)

    A suggestion: Try making lunches the night before…while you’re making dinner. Put the ‘made’ lunchbox/bag into the ‘fridge to sit overnight and then just pop it into the book bag/backpack in the morning –it’s all set to go. Time isn’t such an issue while you’re in the kitchen getting dinner made and/or dishes washed up, and it’ll sure make your mornings go so much smoother. You’ll have those precious extra minutes to get some coffee into yourself, help find a missing text book, a lost shoe, or a permission slip, and getting everyone out the door. Easy-peasy.

    I don’t know how I’d have made it through all the years of my kiddos in school if I’d had to scurry about making their lunches as I made their breakfasts. Go on, try it for a day or two…I think you’ll thank me. beth.

  4. says

    Melanie, WHY IS SHE SO GROWN UP?! WHY?! All these back to school pics… and my nephew started kindergarten yesterday…. I ended up pulling Ellie onto my lap yesterday and we had a long, long talk about how she was never ever going to go to Kindergarten ever and she doesn’t need to learn stuff and she can just stay with Mommy and watch movies forever. She said “Okay” so I think we have a deal.

  5. adrienne says

    a good crockpot meal can make you feel accomplished by 8 am and take the rest of the day off!! ha! Glad the day went well for Caroline and hope P is on the mend. Love reading your blog as you always put a smile on my face and give me a laugh! Enjoy your day today. Let us know what you do because my 3 go back to school tomorrow and not sure if I will do anything but enjoy the silence :)

  6. Angie G says

    Love her green school bag…I haven’t seen Jon Hart in that color and might need to do some online research since green is my go-to!!

  7. Rebecca says

    Bless Caroline’s heart, she is going to be fine in Jr High and probably rule the school before it is over. My daughter and I always laugh about her Jr High years, well when we look at pix. She is a gorgeous girl with amazing hair but those years we didn’t know about straighteners or thinning it out to make it behave. So she had a total mess but we thought she was beautiful and she always says that of course we did, we HAD to, we are her parents! : ) So kudos for getting the new iron, it will help alleviate some of those MOM HOW COULD YOU let me out of the house like that? convos in the future! : )
    Can’t wait to meet you in November! Really looking forward to the conference.

  8. Sandy K says

    Glad Caroline had a good day. It can be scary sometimes!
    Has P thought about going to a Chiropracter ? My hubby and I have found out they can help more then muscle relaxers!

  9. Donna Mallard says

    Big step, junior high! Congrats to Caroline for having a great first day there! Best of luck with the year, honey! Love your blog, Melanie- you never fail to make me laugh every day as you go through your life, echoing online what we think we’re doing by ourselves every day- only to find a friend in you, doing it too!

  10. says

    My morning started off with videos traded between me and our three year old grandson who is starting preschool today! A few tears later, and I get to read this — loved it all!! thank you sooooo much for sharing!!! How can it be that you capture what all of us are feeling and make us laugh and cry! Thank you thank you for creating a bigger community for all of us!!!

  11. Kimberley says

    love her kelly green jon hart! my 8th grader ordered the green backpack, but it won’t arrive until next week. I told her that I hope she LOVES it, because it’s going to be the backpack that she takes to college!

  12. Lynda Morstain says

    I kept distracted yesterday from my older son’s first day of college…by doing lots of laundry & Algebra 2 w/ my younger son! All of a sudden…Andy’s home! Big difference between guys & girls…answers to my questions were: “yep”, “fine”, “good”. Then he crashed for a couple hours before tackling homework!

  13. Chey-Anne Smart says

    I so feel your pain…..I make 2 lunches on MWF and THREE on T/Th. UGGG and I gag at the smell of peanut butter at 7am. Mine also started Jr. High yesterday. I couldn’t function all day long thinking about what he was doing!!! I so went to Chick-Fil-A, as well. Here’s to a great year! And 342 more school lunches……..

  14. says

    She looks so grown up. Glad she had a great first day. Love her hair, too! I hope you both have a wonderful year and that P’s back gets better very soon!

  15. KIM A says

    loving the “one step away from a Xanax with a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup chaser.” line so much I may have to steal it!!

  16. says

    Okay, your description of the guy running in his long chair reminds me of mom. She actually ran up and down the sidelines when I was a kid playing soccer. I found it super annoying back then, but now I use it to my advantage. When the boys get onto me about yelling at a game (boys are so sensitive!), I say, “Well, you have it better than I did. At least I don’t run up and down the field like your Gram did!”
    Then your story of Caroline arriving to Jr High reminds me of LoverBoy when he was in the 5th grade. We drove by the Jr High (since it is located on our way to everything), and he said, “I can’t believe I’m going to be at that school next year.” I said, “Me too. You are growing up way too fast. No more elementary.” He looked at me appalled, “No, Mom, that’s not it. Did you see the size of those kids? They’re ginormous!”

  17. Maria D. says

    Poor “P”! I hope his back is feeling better and that he is back to normal soon. Caroline does look so grown up in her pictures – was the straitening iron for you or her? Lol….

  18. Jeanie says

    Great picture of Caroline and the pup! I’m so glad she enjoyed her first day, ’cause, you know, it can be intimidating. Hope P’s back is better. Unfortunately, I know the feeling.

  19. says

    Oh how I remember those junior high days…I spent more than one of those not much sleep nights during those years. There is a lot of growing as well as learning done during a short period of time but it was good preparation for high school which our daughter sailed through (okay, there was still a few sleepless night for non-junior high concerns). Even though her junior high years were challenging she is now happily a high school cheer coach at our local high school and works with those giggly learning girls, helping them navigate the sometimes rough waters. May your school year be blessed!

  20. Barb says

    As for the lunch issue, my son took the same thing every day and I mean every day from sixth grade straight through his senior year………..PBJ, yogurt and a bottle of water! Easiest thing ever and by that I mean, he packed it himself!!!!!!!

  21. says

    Oh, the soccer game brings back memories. I spent at least 10 years of my life sitting in a lawn chair watching my kids play with some kind of ball. I live in South Texas, and here we only have variations of hot. I used to have this mantra that I’d chant completely in my mind when my kids played during the months of July and August. Here’s how it went: “Hurry up and lose. Hurry up and lose.” I knew if they won, we’d probably have to sit through another game. It feels good to admit that to someone.

  22. Susan says

    That’s a crazy way to spend the night before school starts! I can’t show my daughter your post because she would cry “no fair” at the difference in dress code requirements. Shorts and skirts = 2 fingers below arm length. No Nike shorts, nothing that doesn’t come to at least mid-thigh and yes, this is a public school in Texas!

  23. says

    I am cracking up about the dad running in his chair!!! I am so glad our town is not the only one that has these!! hahah…
    Your daughter is gorgeous and I am so glad she had a great day!

  24. Reta says

    I second the chiropractor idea! I have back issues and it’s the only thing that’s worked for me. Oh and lots of chiropractors have massage therapists on staff. It really is a win win. Great pic of Caroline !