The first day of school preparations began at 8:00 pm Monday.
We had repeated discussions the past few nights about kindergarten for my five-year-old. He had gone to preschool last year and had visited countless times for his three older brother’s affairs. The school was familiar to him, and we began naming all the kids he already knew at the school. He admitted to being nervous, even though he his excitement was more obvious.
While we watched television, the kids went through their backpack for the umpteenth time, and I put their names on their snack bags. We went upstairs to set out their clothes for the big first day.
I ironed their shirts before I ushered them off to bed 9:20 pm, annoyed that it was already so late, wondering where had the time gone.
I finally made it off to bed by 11:23pm. But at 1:30 am I heard the baby fussing through the monitor. I tried to give him time to fall back asleep, but he wouldn’t, so I went upstairs to his room, took him out of his crib and lay with him on the extra bed.
At 2:00 am my five-year-old was walking confusedly around the house. I brought him to the bathroom and sent him off to bed. “You have kindergarten tomorrow!” I reminded him. “I love you!”
By 3:20 am the baby was finally asleep and I carefully put him back into his crib and crawled into bed.
At 7:01 am I heard the baby stirring about through the monitor again. I glanced sleepily at the clock. I wanted to see my middle school student off this morning, but I was too late. My husband, the early riser, had already woken him more than an hour earlier, and my son was already riding the bus to school.
“Well he is a big eighth grader this year,” I consoled myself, “he is fine without me.”
I went to get the baby and brought him into his brother’s room to help me wake them. I started by opening the curtains. Then I ran a finger over my fourth grader’s cheek. He smiled at me. I pulled back the covers from my kindergartner, snuggled up in the top corner of his bed. He looked at me.
“Good morning,” I said. “It’s your first day of school, boys.”
Then I continued over to the top bunk on the other side of the room where my second grader sleeps and did the same for him. Before making my way downstairs to start feeding the baby I made sure all the boys were up and beginning to dress themselves.
I made pancakes for breakfast as the Today show was on the little television in the kitchen.
At 7:25 am the weather came on and I saw the forecasted temperature in the sixties for the next few days.
“Ooh, chilly today,” I said aloud.
My second grader said, “Yeah but I bet the classrooms are still going to be hot.”
My fourth grader added still slow moving, “Mr. Gallo’s room is the hottest in the whole school.”
The boys continued their conversation about school and who might be surprised to see them this year considering we almost moved across the country over the summer as planned.
Then they emptied the dishwasher per my request as they continued to chat and I continued to cook.
Then we began to pack the snack bags, which reminded me, “Oh, I have to write you a note for your teacher about the afternoon snack.” My second grader gets migraines if he doesn’t eat every few hours, and the stretch from school lunch until he gets home is too long. We had arranged for him to eat an afternoon snack in the nurse’s office last year.
My fourth grader had been asking me for days to assist with his memory box and essay. I kept telling him that his journal and pictures of our cross country trip was going to be the best story of his class.
But now as I rapidly got things ready in the kitchen I asked, “Where are the tickets from the Aquarium. You could put that in your box, too. Do you see them? I know they are around here somewhere I see them every day.”
Of course, those annoying tickets that I hadn’t put in a scrapbook yet had been nagging me daily and now that I had a quick good use for them I couldn’t find them.
“What about the shells from the beach you guys collected?” I asked him, but he just looked at me like he had absolutely no idea where to find them now.
It was 7:55 am and my second grader was hinting to the time and how they usually leave at eight to catch the bus if they are walking.
“I know.” I said reassuringly. “We’ll probably drive up.”
“Oh, my camera!” I muttered to myself. “It’s in the van.”
I cleaned the baby from his breakfast, changed his diaper and dressed him. I threw my hair up in a ponytail with a wet brush, gave it a quick spray, lined my eyes hurriedly with black liner and threw on my sandals.
“Wear rain coats today!” I urged the kids.
It was 8:05 am when I turned the van ignition on.
“Here,” I said handing my fourth grader the brochure from Battleship Cove that we visited recently using the Feinstein Junior Scholar cards. “Put that in your box.”
I backed out of the driveway and began driving when I saw the Narragansett Beach parking ticket still in the corner of my dashboard. “Here,” I said handing it to him. “This, too. This is from Narragansett Beach. Remember that one?”
The boys began recounting the day we spent there.
The camera was still in the center console and we parked at the bus stop. I snapped a shot of the boys eagerly awaiting the bus’ arrival.
“Oh I need a piece of paper for your note!” I exclaimed.
He was already looking for one. He pointed to a receipt. “No, that won’t work.”
“Here’s one from my journal.” My fourth grader had his memory box on his lap with is journal easily accessible.
I wrote the note about the afternoon snack. “Put it in your pocket and give it to her first thing in the morning.” I said to him.
But he seemed uncomfortable about even mentioning it.
My fourth grader offered to wait outside his classroom for support while he did so.
“You gotta help him order lunch.” I said to the older boys about their younger brother new to the school.
“We can’t.” They said.
“Oh that’s right, they separate the kindergartners. Well I am sure the teacher’s will help out.”
“Here it is!” they shouted as the bus pulled up.
I grabbed my camera and jumped out under a tree.
My kindergartner ran happily toward the bus, as other kids came from houses and nearby cars to board as well.
I waved frantically at the little heads barely above the bus windows. They didn’t see me. They were too busy talking with their friends, but I continued to wave anyway.
Before the bus pulled away, my kindergartner looked at me for a final goodbye. I snapped another photo and waved again with enthusiasm.
“Seriously?” I thought to myself. “It’s your fourth time, don’t cry. He’s so excited.” I fought back the tears, though I could taste the salt already in my mouth.
I noticed the clock read 8:15 am as I drove back down the hill. But back in the house there was a single water bottle on the counter that someone may have left behind! Well, as parents we can't be perfect, but we can surely try.