oh, god. well. okay. so, we've been building up for ages to this big first day of second grade at a new school, hexter, for oliver. three years, three schools.
i've been trying to plant seeds of positive reenforcement in his little brainfield. remind him how quickly he got settled in and made friends at stonewall last year. all the fun things they did.
the thing with oliver is, he's my child who makes me feel like a total ass for not homeschooling. no matter how fun the grade/school/teacher/friends, he will always choose being at home with his grumpy mother. he asked me yesterday why he has to go to school and i felt kind of shitty for knowing he doesn't HAVE to. but i know full well i am completely incapable of giving him a quality homeschool experience. i'm a straight up mess, purely. i really wish i weren't and could keep him home, and that there is a statement i thought i wouldn't say in a hundred years, before i had my first baby. i apparently didn't know my mother self back then, because i was just wrong all over the place.
we went to open house last thursday afternoon. three heavy bags of school supplies were hefted down the block and onto a desk community in his homeroom. turns out they have two teachers this year. he takes off for math and science in the morning with the teacher next door. after some mysterious outside-funded free breakfast, one which a person cannot opt in or out of. i don't understand where the leftover breakfasts go. where do they go?
we met his teachers and another student. RJ, previously of the dilapidated house behind us, turned up. he's in oliver's class. we're trying to decide how we feel about that. he's a terribly sweet, polite boy. he's also a boy who enjoys fistfighting for pleasure. like he's from 1952. i forgot to tell brian i could see the faintest hint of a star faded into the side of RJ's blonde crew cut. it's how i knew he was from modern times.
we get to last night, and i'm tucking oliver in bed. i ask him one last time how he's feeling about the first day. and he said okay. and then he engaged in his half giggling-half eye wiping behavior. which equals distress, in oliver vernacular. and, as expected, my heart chisels itself in two and plops over in its own dried out heart dust. i lean over and hug him and run my fingers through his hair, while he hangs on to my neck. we do this for about five minutes, me hoping he'll fall asleep and not languish in bed with the terrible first day anxiety rumbling through his brain, courtesy of mommy. i try that infant thing, where you run your finger around on the bridge of their nose. and you could see the primitive section of his brain remembering it and wanting to go to sleep. and then you could see the seven year old section of his brain shaking it off. i really wanted to put him to sleep, for old time's sake. for the sanctity of Missing Things When They're Gone.
after many more neck grabs and hugs and kisses and pettings, i eventually stood up to let him get sleep.
i was up, dark and early, at 6:10am. which is the same as 6:09am, pre-phone alarm days. i felt grumpy that brian wasn't bolting out of bed with me, and then i later felt grumpy that he wasn't planning on going to oliver's first day, considering the school is super close and starting earlier this year. i have to have him to the auditorium by 7:50, or to his room by 8:00. jesus.
i had made the fancy pancakes last night, so they were ready to go. i stuffed ramen and tofu into lunch cans. he had also requested half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and an apple. he didn't know there would also be pita chips and peanuts. to tuck inside his lunch box, i folded a bright, yellow piece of cardstock in half and drew stars on the front of it. inside, i wrote, "oliver: i hope you're having a great first day of second grade! enjoy your lunch! i love you, mommy". i had done the same for violet last week, only she cain't read none, so i cut out a pink heart, folded it in half, and wrote inside, "Violet :)," only not on its side. 'cause she don't text or facebook or even email.
oliver's hair wouldn't simmer down, because i kept forgetting to trim it over the past several weeks. he chose a blue on blue outfit with grey shoes, as he's already missing one half of his new school shoes. as is violet, dammit.
when we go to the new gecko hardware store, oliver has been buying these little sparkly fabric sea turtles on keychains. one is called Backpack Turtle. i think the other is Golden Turtle. i reminded oliver we had discussed placing one in each of his pockets, so that he'd have a friend nearby if he felt scared.
we got in the car. we drove to the school. we parked in the church parking lot. there were tables set up by the parishoners, dispensing water, coffee, and capri sun. it was pleasing to see them out there... sharing their parking lot and beverages and well wishes. we were gently scolded for crossing in the middle of the street, so i was confused why they had children dressed in safety orange aprons standing there, as if.
we were still composed upon entering the school. i asked oliver if i should be taking his photo on campus and he declined. i pointed out the auditorium as we passed it and reminded him that is where i will drop him off after today. we walked some more and passed shiny, shiny teachers at each of their doors, full make up and new outfits. teeth glinting. i reminded oliver of his homeroom number, in case he needs to go to the bathroom on his own.
we found a multi-colored circle-covered name tag on his locker. no sharing this year. he reached as high as he could to hang his new garden critters lunchbox and old american apparel backpack on the hooks. he closed the door with a stonewall slam and watched it rebound a little. we pushed it to. then, he sensed my impending departure and turned to tears.
i could see him struggling to regain composure. but he couldn't. i leaned down and grabbed on to him, stroked his hair. told him he had the power inside him to make it a good day. RJ would be inside and would help him. he just had to sit back and let the day go where it was scheduled.
after a minute of trying and failing to stop crying. we moved the last couple of yards to the door and watched another little boy go effortlessly, tearlessly, fearlessly in. the tears had started again. i looked up at ms. guerra and mouthed, "he's upset." i gave him a few more rubs and he sucked it in one last time.
"would you like to shake your teacher's hand and tell her good morning?" he put his little montessori hand out and she took it. she held on to it while she said something very quietly to him and i began to move to the other side of the door. i lingered there because i didn't want him to look back one last time and not see me there.
but he didn't. he disappeared inside and i turned to walk back down the hall. my eyes were trying very hard to leak. my nose was sniffling. i wanted nothing more than to fall on the floor and let it out. but we had gotten out of the room more quickly this year than last, and there were people everywhere still, and i couldn't walk three blocks in tear rain without drawing considerable attention.
on the other hand, i can't pay violet enough to skip school. every night, she still climbs up on my lap at bedtime to spin her rainbow-striped yarns about imaginary animals and mothers (she has two now, imaginary mothers... she needed another to make the pancakes). she asks me if i'll be sad while she's gone to school and hangs out with the lunch bunch. and i tell her i will be sad, but i'll be okay. last night, i tried on the idea of her being in the lunch bunch, lunch bunch, lunch bunch, lunch bunch, and then MORNING CHILD on fridays. she could have lunch with me. ME! and she said what amounted to a no thank you. she didn't understand how she could not be in the lunch bunch. even maya might be switching to full time all the time because of the lunch bunching going on up there. i hear she didn't want to go home on friday.
so here i am with my first taste of empty nesting. it's a very confusing, conflicted feeling. i can't decide how much i should mourn violet's full time departure and how much i should let it go.
an hour ago, i drove by hexter's playground, slowly, knowing it was time for oliver's grade to go out there post-lunch. it took a rotation or two before i finally spotted him. he was running up to the wavy orange slide at the far corner of the playground. i was elated. he was running. he was playing. but i was sad to see he didn't have five or six girls running madly after him, like his first day on the playground last year. i circled one last time and saw him trying to jump from toadstool to toadstool on his own. but he looked like he was having a good time.
i seriously do see the glamour of being childfree. all this business really ages a person. it scrapes your nerves clean.
violet, feeling a little left out.
jameson, violet's school jenny pig.