Christina M. Currie: Counting the days
September 5, 2008
We wait all summer for this, don’t we?
It’s not like we’re looking forward to snow and 20-below days. It’s not like we don’t love fresh air, hot days and cool nights.
But, the first day of the second week of school is like Christmas in September for parents.
Finally, no worries about child care. No panicking over the mischief bored children can cause. No more yelling, “close the door,” 14 times a day as energized kids pop in for food and then pop out to continue doing whatever it was that so occupied them. You’re not sure you want to know exactly what that activity was.
School’s in session and the routine that was totally lost during three months of vacation slowly becomes normal again.
Well, as normal as life ever is with children around.
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Note that I said the first day of the second week of school.
The first day of school is nothing short of chaos. Excited kids barely fall asleep the night before, and even if that excitement carried over to help them jump out of bed the next morning, the steps memorized the year before are forgotten.
Get dressed, comb your hair, brush your teeth.
Really, how difficult can that be?
The fact that we made it out the door was amazing. That we did it on time? Unheard of.
Little did I know that the real mess was about to begin.
I was so proud of our accomplishment that I didn’t consider that hundreds of parents would be enduring the same morning and would likely all arrive at the school at the same time. I also did not remember that, at the elementary level, parents park their cars and walk their children in on the first day.
Hey! It only happens once a year. Memories often underrate the overwhelming reality.
So, we arrived, my first-grader, my third-grader and I, at a facility that’s still under construction, which had cars parked on any flat surface within a half mile.
The tension was palpable as cars warred with each other and small pedestrians, seeking to gain another few feet in their quest for a place to park.
Things calmed, slightly, once inside the school doors. After all, those inside had already won their prize and made it through before the bell. But, though schools are conscientious about familiarizing students with their new teacher and classroom, parents aren’t always in the loop. Eight-year-old Katie had no recollection where her classroom was. Six-year-old Nikki walked there unerringly, not even glancing once over her shoulder.
It was her first day of all-day school. I expected a bit of unease.
I got Katie settled before tracking Nikki down for one last hug and kiss. She was already comfortable in her new classroom, chatting and measuring for potential friends.
That girl’s got chutzpah.
I got my good-bye in and fled the melee.
Each day gets easier as people refine their routine and figure out that the whole system falls apart when they park their car in the drop zone.
I figure that, by Monday, bedtimes will be firm, and mornings will get a little easier.
Then, I’ll celebrate the holiday.