The Last Few Days (of the Greatest Summer Ever)

Every toy we have, every last paint brush and bead and art supply, every piece of clothing including all the winter gear and too-small boots, all the camping gear, all the swim bag towels and goggles, all the mostly empty boxes and bags of snacks, every last dish and cup and fork, all of these things are on my living room floor right now.  My children are in that pile somewhere repeatedly, brainlessly pushing the Dinosaur Train button, “Next Stop, the Jurassic Time Period!” or playing Toca Pet Doctor.  I myself am still in pajamas that I put on three days ago and am subsisting on bagels and avocados.

We have wrung every last drop of sunshine out of this fantastic summer and now we are finished.  We just have to muster enough to get on the bus next week, and I’m afraid we didn’t leave enough to do it.

Friends have been posting First Day of school pictures all week.  We don’t start until Tuesday for the elder and Thursday for the younger in this house.  Why didn’t we go to Catholic school?!?

I thought a few weeks ago that we would institute “Mystery Monday!” and take day trips, within about a two-hour radius to the cool stuff nearby.  Great idea.  Except for all the other days of the week.  Two weeks in a row now I have used up all my dwindling energy on packing and planning and executing awesome trips.  And then “Tragic Tuesday” rolls around and I can’t even muster breakfast making skills for them.  They are eating mostly cereal crumbs, pinata candy one of them has squirreled away somewhere and grapes from the yard at this point.

I’m a planner.  So yesterday, since I am clearly done with summer, amid the flotsam of indulged childhood I sat with my notebook and started planning for this fall.  The younger will be in morning 4K, so what will we do in our afternoons, especially without big brother to argue play with?  Turns out there are a lot of morning activities for four- and five-year-olds. And next to nothing for afternoon ones.  What are they thinking?  That these little people are in afternoon school or perhaps napping?  Delightfully being entertained by their loving stay-at-home parent??

I keep getting asked if I’m excited for school.  Well.  No.  Yes I love my kids and love having them around and all that precious garbage, but yes, I am also, clearly, ready to send them off for a few hours every day and leave me in peace and learn something on someone else’s watch.  I just don’t see it actually happening.  I’ll believe it if it does.  The thing is that we tried preschool with the younger two years ago.  Epic fail.  She wanted to go.  Really.  And then she cried.  A lot. AND she went back to sleeping in my bed.  That gave me serious pause.  Why I pulled her from school though, is because the second week of school I watched her cry on the playground for 20 minutes from a classroom window, and not one of her teachers came to sit with her or comfort her AND at the end of the day they said “She seems to be doing better.”  That’s one way to get ready for school, but thanks, but no thanks, Meeting House Nursery School.

Last year we were slated for three days of preschool, which I immediately dropped to two mornings.  We went to open house and she made friends, actually spoke to other kids–all of whom went on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and bonded with exactly no one in the Monday/Wednesday/Friday group.  So we switched.  Two 2 1/2 hour days is a drop in the lake and even getting her to go there, with friends!  and teachers you like! and snacks! was a trial.  The last month of school we turned a corner and she wanted to go and stay longer.  But now she’s spent three months adhered to me and her brother every moment of the day and she’s fretful again if I dare to be in another room.

So we’ll see.  I have very low expectations for this year. I know she is ready.  I also know that she doesn’t know that yet. In theory, she’ll climb on the bus next Thursday morning and cheerily wave good-bye.  In reality, I just don’t see it happening.  Of course, all along, I’ve been worrying about the wrong child.  We went to meet the kids’ teachers this afternoon, both lovely, with awesome classrooms.  And the younger LOVED it.  Loves her classroom “There’s a play kitchen!!!  And pretend food!  This is the greatest room, Mommy!” She says she can’t wait for school. (I’ve heard that before.)  What she doesn’t know and I’m very, very hopeful doesn’t happen, is that we could still enroll in afternoon 4K at her preschool.  Except that I have been waiting for seven years to have a quiet morning to myself to work and I don’t know if I can wait one more year. So, keep up that great attitude, my peanut! Go, ride the bus! Conquer 4K at your new school!

Aaaand the older sat with his amiable new teacher, and clammed up, barely spoke, even about his favorite subjects.  He’s always been a thinker, carefully processing before saying anything.  His teacher had a lot of questions about what he did this summer, what he likes to do, what he likes to learn…and my son was like a deer caught in headlights.  Minutes passed before he responded, me and the teacher trying hard not to fidget or jump in and answer for him.  Then we came home and he’s had a terrible afternoon.  Nothing is working for him.  Nothing is right.  Everything is dumb.  He’s thrown stuff at his walls, ripped up two art projects, acted completely out of character. I’m not totally clueless to see he’s worried about school and this is how he’s showing it.

So, yes, this looks like another beginning that we’ll stumble through, we just don’t know who or what about yet.  Who knows who will cry, but right now, I suspect all of us.  Certainly two out of three. Wish us luck.

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School days, ahoy!
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