The First Day of School

It’s back-to-school today and the timing is right – even though it’s only August 7th!  A week ago I was dreading this day.  I didn’t want the summer to end.  I didn’t want to be a slave to the kids’ calendars.  I didn’t want to have to get up at 6 a.m. I didn’t want to pack lunches.  I didn’t want to face the homework.  But the universe has a funny way of bringing you around.  The day following my attack of dread, child number one tried to jump off our second floor balcony (the same child who jumped three years ago and broke his foot in the process).  Child number two slept till 10 a.m. and then spent all day watching wrestling and NASCAR – all day.  Number three suggested that a younger sibling do something so inappropriate that I cannot even hint to you what it was.  Number four spent the whole day in tighty-whiteys and when I asked why, I was told that he was trying to break the record for most days in a row wearing only underpants (and the same pair, to boot!).  Yeah, it’s time for summer to end.

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So off they went this morning.  And even though a part of me is happy for my freedom, I’m sad, too.  I love my babies, and most of the time I like them as well.  They’re my road warriors and my constant summer companions.  I’m also aware that I have only five more years with one of them and my heart has already begun to crack.

Hunter begins eighth grade today and I can tell that he’s nervous.  It’s going to be a tough year, especially for a kid who really has to work for his grades.  At open house a few nights ago we met his teachers, and even I could tell we were entering a different league.  One teacher told us in no uncertain terms that she didn’t mess around.  She gives one “out” for not doing homework and if it happens a second time, she issues detention.  You should have seen Hunter’s face.  I almost laughed out loud – but didn’t, for fear the teacher would give me detention.  He’s taking Spanish this year and we’re both apprehensive.  With Hunter, I assume my helicopter pilot mode, so that means I’ll be taking Spanish, too.  And it’s been a long time since I spoke Spanish.  Aye carrumba.  Two of his classes are for high school credit.  He’ll be taking a three day field trip to Savannah.  He has cross county practice three nights a week, with meets on Saturdays, scattered throughout the state.  We will be busy.  And tired.

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Hunter, 8th grade.

Allison 8th Grade 1982

Me, 8th grade.

I remember starting eighth grade and being so excited.  I didn’t feel the pressure that I know my son is feeling.  I was just jacked to be at the top of the school’s food chain!  I remember that my electives were Home Ec, Typing and Industrial Arts (a.k.a Shop).  Hunter will be taking Spanish and Band.  It’s different.  I recall shopping for new clothes and wearing “heels” with skirts, because I being thirteen meant new fashion rules.  I asked Hunter if he wanted some new clothes and he told me, “No.”  He plans to wear the same t-shirts he did last year.  T-shirts.  Middle school kids dress so sloppily these days.

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Barrett.

Barrett, my son with autism, will be in the same classroom as last year and we’re all thrilled by this.  His open house was a reunion for the boys from last year.  He’ll have the same classroom, teachers (with one exception) and schedule.  Surprisingly, I have no anxiety about Bear’s upcoming year.  The smile on his face when we got to his school’s open house was all I needed to relax.

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Audie & Cam, the early bus!

Audrey will be a fourth grader.  Fourth grade is pretty much the earliest I can remember of my school years.  It’s the year we moved to Florida and I was introduced to the concept of the portable classroom.  Ironically, one of Audrey’s classes this year will be in a portable.  Fourth grade was the year I started walking to school.  I was nine.  Can you imagine?  It was the year I met my best friend Marcie, who is Audrey’s Godmother.  It was also the year I became aware of the bigger, badder world out there.  Children cursing, kids talking about sex, and occasionally seeing some fifth graders sneak cigarettes.  I kid you not.  Now, whether this could be attributed to fourth grade or Florida I’m uncertain, but it’s still notable.  Fourth grade presented a shift in my perspective because I could see growing up on the horizon.  Yes, in some ways our kids have more pressure than we did, especially with academics, but in other ways, they still live in a blissful and innocent bubble.  Or at least they do where we live.  Or at least I think they do.  We block that view of the maturation horizon for as long as we can.  Still, I know things are about to change for Audrey.  This is the year the girls will get “the talk” in school, and I’ll have to beat the school to it.  Fourth grade will also up the academic game.  Audrey won’t require my help, but I will unnecessarily fret that she’s not trying her best.  Why I do this, I don’t know, because honestly, she’s got this.

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Audrey, 4th grade.

Allison 4th Grade 1978

Me, 4th grade.

Little man is going to be in first grade.  This one is the hardest for me, although not as devastating as last year’s kindergarten leap.  He’s my little guy and it just doesn’t seem right that’s he’s in elementary school and riding a bus, let alone that it’s 1st grade.   Sadly, the only thing I remember about first grade is my teacher’s name, Mrs. Richardson, and the location of my classroom at Harwich Elementary School.  Based on my experiences with my other children, I know that Cammy will have fun.  I just hope he does the work!  He’s my dreamer.  It’s hard to keep his head out of the clouds, and first grade ain’t what it used to be.

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Cammy, 1st grade.

Allison 1st Grade 1975

Me, 1st grade.

This year I had the kids write a letter that I will save for them.  I asked them to write how they feel about the start of the school year, what they hope to learn and what may be making them nervous.  I think it’ll be interesting for them to read the letters someday.  They’ll probably have trouble remembering how they felt on this day and more importantly, mom doesn’t want to ever forget.

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This post was inspired by Mama Kat’s World’s Greatest Writing Workshop.  This week’s writing prompt was:  What grade is your child going in?  Share a memory you have of yourself at that age.

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What grades are your children entering?  Do you remember that school year?  What are your hopes for your children this year?

29 thoughts on “The First Day of School”

  1. look at them heading to school and the sun isn’t even up yet!!! Our first day is quickly approaching, and I’m just not ready. My kids are definitely more ready than I am, and I’m just trying to be excited for them and their own excitement.

  2. They all look so much like you in their own ways! My little guy is heading to 1st this year too. I know he’s ready, but I feel the same way…I don’t think I’m ready to be a mom of all big kids!

    1. Thank you for saying that Kat. When the twins were babies, I saw me, but now I just see my brother. And the general consensus has been that the younger two take after their dad. It always hurts a little when people say they look like everyone but me, because I did the heavy lifting, lol! I’m not ready to be a big kid momma, exclusively, either.

  3. I loved this with your pictures too and all your thoughts about each kid at this moment in their lives. And what a beautiful idea to have the kids write themselves a letter that they’ll save.

  4. Ok I’m going to have to scroll up and down to get all of my thoughts and am sure to miss a few but here goes. First, I cannot believe (!!!) that school is starting for you. Here, it’s the day after Labor Day – so like um, September 3 which seems normal to me as that’s when I started as a kid. Also, I have a late August bday and consider myself a summer bday and school doesn’t start until the FALL!!! That rant over. Scrolling back up now.

    Fifth graders sneak cigarettes??? SHIT!!! Also, love that Bear was all smiley (and you anxious-free) about his class…

    Holy crap you and Hunter look so alike in your 8th grade photos!!!

    PS I am terrified of kindergarten. For real. And also, I love this post.

    PS you know that I am dying to know what the one suggested the other do that is too inappropriate to mention!!

    1. I know, and it wasn’t like I lived in a “bad” part of town! It was Naples Florida! But that was a different time. Kids at the middle school bus stop were always sneaking off into the woods to smoke cigarettes. I think it’s because back then everyone’s parents smoked. In my current adult life (ha, ha) I only know two people who smoke and they usually go off and hide to do it.

      As for Bear – the smiles continued. He got off the bus at the end of the day beaming. I called his teacher to thank her and she said he was giggling and hopping around all day, very compliant as well. We’ll see how long this lasts.

      Dropping the two youngest off at kindergarten was gut wrenching – but I promise, nothing to be terrified off. Tucker is going to rock it, I am certain. Third grade is when it gets anxiety ridden, less fun and games, more real work.

      As for what child number 3 did – I will spill when you come to Atlanta!

  5. The first thing that popped into my head is that you have the same exact smile as Hunter. Too cool. But the second thought is more important. I hope you print this post and put it with their letters to themselves. So each one will understand that you got it, what they were going through what they are facing and what they will become.

      1. I am originally from the Cape. The move rocked my world! It was like leaving Mayberry and being dumped in an alternative universe. When we moved to Naples, it was still a little (known) Florida town, and so many transplants. NOTHING like it is today. But I did come to love it. There were no five star resorts and very few high rises. It breaks my heart when I go back.

    1. Thank you Kerri! Both for the Hunter-mom comment and the letters. I write them a letter on their birthday each year (although I don’t give it to them), and this year I was thinking that they should do that for themselves, but dropped the ball. This week’s writing prompt renewed the idea. I couldn’t remember very much about my first days, and wished I had a reference (my parents are deceased) to help me.

  6. Love their photos juxtaposed with yours. Our middle daughter is in 8th grade and our youngest is in 4th. Then our oldest will be a college junior. I hope my daughter has a better year than last. Junior High was tough for me — but it is nothing like it is for girls these days. Throw in the internet and oy. The writing the letter to themselves is a way, way cool idea. I’d love to read something like that I had written way back when.

    1. I feel you on the middle school thing. Fortunately, my son’s experience (so far) has been relatively drama free. But my friends with girls – aye! I keep telling my husband that I want to move to a very small town before Audrey gets to middle school. He’s not on board with that idea, but suggested I could homeschool her. Unfortunately, one of us wouldn’t make it through alive those three years alive – so I will have to get my big girl pants on.

  7. I am so glad my son is going back to school! Can’t even imagine the tidy whities for weeks at a time. Sam said he is bored and ready to be a high school junior. EEK!

    Your kids look a lot like you at their respective ages. Great pics. Thanks for sharing. M

  8. First time reading here and I’m so glad I did! This is such a wonderful post – funny and poignant and reflective. Your kids are just beautiful and I agree with Kat and Kristi – they look like you in such varied ways in these photos.
    The underwear thing had me on the floor – oh my goodness how funny. Because, you know, with kids and that sort of thing you kind of have to laugh or else you cry, right? Honestly, when they do things like that it amazes me how completely logical it seems to them that they’re doing something utterly ridiculous.
    I also have a first grader this year – suddenly she’s such a big kid and not a baby and I’m not sure I’m ready for this ride!
    I wish you all a wonderful year! Looking forward to reading more. 😀

    1. I agree with you – we’ve got to laugh! When we have moments like the tighty-whiteys, I always save it in the mental file for material to use during the rehearsal dinner speeches! My first grader still seems like a baby to me, but that’s probably because I treat him like one. I have to stop that! But I have noticed some very clever and ‘grown-up” quips from him lately. I’m so glad you visited the site, thank you. I look forward to getting to know you better through your writing.

  9. Oh, the end of summer brings such mixed emotions for me. Yes, it’s TIME (your opening paragraph made me giggle) but we’re sleeping so late these days, enjoying not having to rush for the bus… it’s going to be hard to pick up the pace again. But still… it’s time. :)

    1. Yes, definitely mixed emotions. I’m glad I made you giggle. My other half was appalled that I shared the details, but they were just to rich not to share. Two days in, and it’s still hard. I’ll probably get into the groove right before Thanksgiving break.

  10. Loved reading this. I can so relate to growing up in Florida. I can’t believe how fast the time goes they are growing up too fast.

    1. Thanks Michele! I was shocked by your back to school pictures, as well. I swear, the last time I saw Jaxson, he was a baby. As for Florida, I can’t even imagine the east coast. I was shocked when I moved there for college, it was so much biggest and faster than the west coast.

  11. Ah, we have two weeks to go and I’m not ready yet. I love sleeping in too much. I loved learning a little more about each of your kids, and seeing your fashion throughout the years! I only have two years left with my oldest, and it’s killing me. How will I let go?

    1. Enjoy your last couple of weeks. I was just saying to my husband last night that August has become such a bummer for me. It just is summer for us, and yet it is soooooo hot! September, with the cooler temps and football, seems better suited or back-to-school! As for letting go, oh momma, I do not know. I can’t even go there. When I try to “peek,” I start to cry.

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