Caroline starts first grade today. Just typing the words causes me tear up a little which makes perfect sense when you consider that I drove past the high school yesterday and got a little teary because oh my gosh she’ll be in high school in just eight years and sunrise and sunset and all that.
Yes, I’m enjoying this fragile emotional ledge on which I am perched. Thanks for asking.
The truth is that I am the one who feels melancholy about the end of summer. Caroline has been waiting to be an official first grader all summer long and spent most of the weekend speaking in ALL CAPS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS about all the great things that first grade will bring. She has never met a social situation that she doesn’t love, as opposed to her mama who sometimes wants to hide in a corner until it’s all over. But I don’t because then people would point and stare and ask “Who’s the crazy lady hiding in a corner?” and that would be awkward.
On Friday we met her teacher and she was every bit as fabulous as I thought she’d be. She has so much energy and personality, both of which are good traits to have when you’re in charge of wrangling seventeen first graders all day, every day.
When we walked in the classroom there was a stack of forms on each child’s desk that needed to be filled out. We also had to put up all their school supplies which totally stressed me out because what if I put the box of Kleenex in the wrong place and Caroline didn’t get credit for bringing in a box of Kleenex? What if I didn’t properly label her Crayola Markers and they end up in the wrong cubby? Do I put both boxes of Crayons in her school box or just one? Do I take them out of the boxes first or leave them in?
How on earth am I going to survive twelve years of this kind of stress?
I managed to get all the supplies in (Please, God) what I think were the right locations and began to fill out the forms on the desk. Most of it was basic information like how she’ll be picked up from school each day and if she usually brings her lunch or buys her lunch. I’m sad to say that after a brief love affair with the cafeteria food during the first two weeks of Kindergarten, she officially broke up with mass-produced cuisine and requires a homemade lunch each day, which means I have to get up ten minutes earlier each morning.
It normally doesn’t take me ten minutes to make a ham sandwich and stuff some chips in a Ziploc bag, but the early morning hour is not my friend and renders me unable to locate cheese slices that are right in front of my face.
Anyway, I was filling out the forms and got to a question that read, “What makes your child happy?” Since Caroline was right next to me, I decided to ask her instead of just writing down my initial response which was “To be loved and adored by her first grade teacher, having a friend to sit with at lunchtime, and being recognized as an incredibly special and wonderful child”. Because that might be a bit much.
So I turned to her and asked, “Hey, what makes you happy?”
She looked at me for about three seconds and replied, “Shooting pigs”.
Of course. Shooting pigs.
She is such a first grade girl cliche’.
Needless to say, I didn’t want to frighten her new teacher so I took the liberty of exchanging “shooting pigs” for “enjoys outdoor activities”.
It just sounds better; not to mention it won’t cause a visit to the school counselor on the first day of school.
On Sunday we spent most of the day getting everything ready for the first day. There were more forms to be filled out and we had to pick out what she was going to wear on the first day, a process that proved to be only slightly less tenuous than the Middle East peace talks and ended with me being totally mature and telling her I wasn’t sure why she wanted to look homeless on the first day of school.
P made the mistake of walking into her room in the midst of all the wardrobe strategy and I asked, “Why does a person have to have so many opinions about what they will and will not wear?”
He said, “The same reason you do”.
Oh, he’s good.
Ultimately, we found a compromise somewhere between the old, faded skirt and the precious red sundress.
Now I just have to figure out how to navigate the carpool lanes at the end of the day.
And hope that her Crayola markers were properly labeled.
And hope that the next twelve years don’t go by too fast.