Truly, I'm not quite as callous as I sound. When we hugged goodbye my eyes welled up and it was at least fifteen minutes before I stopped feeling sad and decided to feel jubilant instead. Walking home I heard from a neighbor that my oldest daughter Madeleine had been crying after I hugged her goodbye and left to walk her younger sister Katherine to class. I just really miss my mom, she told my neighbor. When I heard that it took a lot of self-discipline not to turn right around and demand that the school return my bereft child.
They're just so... little. The backpacks are bigger than most of the kids. And everywhere I turn I see these wide smiles that show gaps where baby teeth used to live. The kids scramble all over the place with excitement, kind of like newborn puppies. I just love the madness of Back to School. The new shoes and plastic bags laden with school supplies.
I remember the Night Before School Starts when I was younger. Arranging my school clothes by my bed, and re-loading my backpack twenty times, lest I forget something. My mom is a die-hard believer in hot breakfasts, and I remember her pushing a plate of pancakes and eggs toward me, urging me to fill up. Of course I was too nervous to eat. This memory returned to me when I handed Madeleine a plate of french toast and she said, "I'm sorry mom, but I don't think I can eat this. I have too many butterflies in my stomach." I understood.
With only one daughter in tow my schedule suddenly feels luxurious. You can pretty much do anything you want with only one child. The first day we ran errands. The second day we baked a birthday cake for Katherine. And today we did some cleaning and spent a lot of time snuggling on the couch watching Dora. It's been a wild week, and sometimes there's nothing better than to snuggle up on the couch at ten in the morning and let the clock tick past us while we watch cartoons together. Because honestly, whatever I don't get done today I have seven hours to get done tomorrow!
Do you have any traditions that help you celebrate the kids going back to school?