Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hop on the bus, Gus...

Yesterday was the day in my house, for which we have been counting down for almost a month now. It was the first day of First grade for my first child! We have had a summer of trips to the pool and swimming lessons, he learned to play with his little sister and participated in sibling squabbles, played with friends all over our neighborhood, and had a great 7th birthday. And, from about two weeks ago on, were bored out of our minds and ready for school more than anything.

I had some time to reflect about putting my son on the bus this year. Last year, I expected to feel very emotional, sending my darling one off to Kindergarten. I was surprised in that I was emotional, but I did just fine. He'd been in a Bridge/Pre-K class the year before, going every day to school. He was almost a year older than most of his classmates due to a late summer birthday. And, he had a lot of friends on his bus already. It all came quite natural for us...

I had a sense that this year wouldn't be the same. I actually started feeling emotional about my son going back to school several weeks before it even began. I think it is because this year, I knew how much he was going to be gone. I remembered how little time there is in a day to squeeze in all you want to do with them between 4 and 8 p.m. after school. And, I knew how much he was going to mature and change, based on how much he did last year. So, I didn't want to let him go this year, much more than last. And, I wonder--does it get this way more and more every year?

So, yesterday morning we were ready very early. My son was dancing around the house giddy and nervous for his first day as my husband and I tried to keep him calm. He tried to head to the bus stop a full 20 minutes ahead of time because he was ready and we told him to wait.

(OK, cue the somber and beautiful music of a mother's heartache at a son who is growing up way too fast...)

About 10 minutes before our bus was to arrive, we decided to go to the front door and take our traditional first day pictures and start the walk a block down the road to the bus stop. My son was beaming. My daughter was excited to go see the school bus. I was already feeling the lump in my throat as I clutched my digital camera like it was my security blanket.

(SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEECH! Oh, that's the scratch of the needle on the record player playing that somber music for our walk.)

"The bus is already here and LEAVING!" My husband said in a panicked tone.

"Oh, no! RUN!" We both shouted at my son.

And, with that, there went all my plans for the heartwarming send off to his second year of elementary school. There was no time for goodbye hugs and kisses and "I know you'll have fun" whispers in his ear. There was only time to help him jog to the bus and wave my arms so the bus driver knew we were coming, all the while feeling the amused looks of the more snotty neighbors standing there looking on. Of course, we completely looked like we had woken up late and were unprepared for the first day of school, even though that was very far from the truth.

Every year, our bus shows up 10 to 15 minutes late on the first day, sometimes even later. Yesterday, it was 10 minutes early. Nice!

As my son climbed on the bus, and I was trying to recompose myself from the dead sprint, I looked up to find that--either out of habit or nervousness--he'd sat down in the first row of seats. The "kindergarteners" row--where he sat last year. And all the rest of his friends/classmates were sitting in the middle or to the back of the bus. Social suicide...he had just committed social suicide! Oh nooooooo....

So, I spent most of my day agonizing that our start to the morning was some sort of sign of how the rest of his first day might go, allowing it to consume entirely too much of my mind. But, as it turned out, his day went just fine. The only complaint was that this year, unlike last year, his teacher didn't give them M&Ms as a treat to welcome them to school. (Oh, the hardships a first grader must endure!) And, instead of the back-to-school picture on our front porch, I got this one of him coming off the bus. Yes, the sun was shining in his eyes, but I'll take what I can get I suppose.

Why does being a parent mean that your heart has to ache in a million different ways over the smallest milestone in your child's life? Even when it is a happy milestone, like no longer being the youngest kid in school, it feels like your chest might burst from the anxiety of it all.

And we only have how many more months until summer vacation again? Maybe I should start the countdown now...


Blogger Babaloo said...

Aw, sounds like mom had a hard first day of school? For me the lump got smaller and smaller each year as I sent the kids off for their first day. I'm sure it will get easier for you too.

4:07 PM, August 17, 2006  
Blogger daysgoby said...

Oh my goodness, what a tall and handsome child!

Looks like he had a good day.

4:44 PM, August 17, 2006  
Blogger Carol said...

I agree - I have a different feeling this year - that it will be harder. Harry doesn't start till next Wednesday and I can't be there to walk him to school. It's heart breaking when you miss those milestones.

I have high hopes for both our boys despite not-so-perfect first days.

5:36 PM, August 17, 2006  
Blogger LadyBugCrossing said...

Don't cha just love the bus schedules?? They make their own, I think... At least you got this picture with the bus in the background. He looks happy - must have been a great day!

7:46 PM, August 17, 2006  
Blogger Grandma K said...

Your heart will continue to ache with the milestones in your children's life. When you became a mother, your heart was changed forever. They will always be your babies.

What a good looking young man!

9:30 AM, August 18, 2006  
Blogger Jen said...

Just wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog. And when I saw your sidebar title "Cat Scratch Fever" I couldn't help but laugh....did you read my post from yesterday? If you did, you'll get why I laughed!

2:11 PM, August 18, 2006  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

I love the picture. The school bus is a nice touch!

And yes, back to school is a bad time every year, even when they're teenagers, because during the summer they become themselves again and not who they think they need to be for their friends, and it's one big happy family and my husband and I always dread the changes in attitude that always come with the school year...

8:15 AM, August 20, 2006  
Blogger TC said...

I'm finding myself ready for the school year and being back on a schedule but I'm dreading the homework battles and all the drama from the middle school. I'll drop them off and my heart will be hurting.

9:25 AM, August 21, 2006  

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