I join many parents all across the land in a heartfelt, sing it out loud version of, “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year.” Max went back to school today and I’m hip-hip hooraying as I down my 4th cup of coffee and get back to work.
Last night, Max tried every sleep delay tactic he knows. However, he was also partly cooperating, because he’s been really excited about school, too. His new teacher sent out mail (received around 2 weeks ago) with a lovely note addressed to Max that included a picture of the train corner in his new class. He was instructed to bring it in this morning so he could be a “room detective” and play a game of I SPY and find it. So, this was a motivating factor to get him back after several weeks at home. Genius!
Last night, we managed to get Max in bed by 9pm (with the works; bath, teeth brushed, and clean PJs). He told me what he wanted packed for lunch. I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget: 1 red apple, 1 milk, carrots, a Lunchables box (minus the Oreo cookies they put in there which he isn’t aware I switch out for carrots or other veggies). Then he wanted to read Blue Goes to School (which has been in heavy rotation the past few weeks by his request) so we did. Then it was time to futz around with the flashlight (first under the covers then shining it on the ceiling) for a few minutes. Followed by goodnight hugs, tickles, and kisses, and then….Max just couldn’t fall asleep. I wasn’t surprised and knew he had to take his time. He’d be back into a better bedtime routine soon enough.
Max talked about his excitement and nervousness. “I need more milk! I need more snuggles.” Max lay there, chewing on his Manatee and Blue plush toys, and he looked at the ceiling. He rolled over. And over. This went on for a while. Finally, he fell asleep a little after 10pm. Not so bad in the big scheme of things.
Then I couldn’t fall asleep. I lay there in bed (well after 1am) and while I did not chew on a plush toy (or my fingers), I did stare at the ceiling, and the clock, and I obsessively double triple checked my alarm. I had my own fretting and first day back to school jitters, too.
This is the first time Max won’t have an organized rest-time at school. His little pillow, sheet, green blanket and lovey are not needed anymore. I practically cried just thinking about this. Even though Max gave up nap time a long time ago, he seemed to still need this rest time while at school last year. But the past few weeks of summer camp he had told me, “Mommy, I don’t want rest time anymore. I have too much energy!” Well, today there will be no rest time. No more baby Max. How did he get so big so fast? Does this mean he’ll go to bed earlier tonight? Hmm.
So, all this is running through my head, and finally, I told myself, Stop thinking! Everything’s going to be fine. Just stop worrying! I tried not to yell at myself but it sounded loud in my head. Please stop fretting! But that’s what parents do, isn’t it? There is a certain amount of fretting and doing involved in getting one’s kid back to school. That’s just how it is. Did I pull everything together for the morning? His extra clothes, the family pics for the cubby? Did I wipe out the lunch box from whatever sticky goop was left in there from camp?) Go to sleep! And I did.
This morning, by some miracle, I did NOT snooze through all my alarms (set at 15 minute intervals, just in case). First challenge, me waking up on time. Check. Then it was off to get Max (who by another miracle, slept through all night in his own bed). He informed me after opening his eyes (after several attempts of, “Wake up, Max. GoodMorningShine!”), that, “Mommy, I’m tired. I’m super dee duper tired!” I took those two cookies from the lunch and used them to get him out of bed. Yes, the magical powers of sugar and cookies can not be underestimated. Please don’t judge. I did what I had to do. Plus, Max only eats the filling, so how bad that can that really be? He also ate a big bowl of cereal and then cooperated with every single step! He chose his t-shirt (The new one from Steamtown USA in Scranton, PA he just visited recently with his dad and Grandpa, Papa Allen). But the jeans I put on him were suddenly too small. “Mommy, I need the next size. I grew overnight. Now, I’m taller!” By the third miracle of the morning, I had the next size handy and on those went. “Much better, Mommy, thanks.” Maybe I’m not a complete failure after all. I confess, I did not do any back to school shopping. I realized that he needs new rain boots and a new raincoat (the ones he has on today fit, but just barely). Maybe he did grow overnight.
Out the door we went with the bag of everything (lunch box, etc), and since it was pouring rain (still), I drove and by the 4th miracle, found a parking spot. In the door we went, passing by his old class with his previous teacher we loved (and I shed an internal, invisible tear), and into his new classroom! His new teacher welcomed us warmly. Max found his cubby and we loaded it with his stuff. The alien rain boots were changed for sneakers. He got hugs from his old pals and started building something from Legos. After a few minutes settling him in, we said goodbye. Max held on tight, and so did I. Hugs and kisses and more kisses and hugs.
I hope the note I wrote for him and put in his lunch box made him happy when he found it at lunch. By now, he’s NOT napping at school, and I know he’s going to have a great year.
The school had a parent coffee gathering set up and I had a chance to chat with my mom friend-buddies and to meet a new mom at the school. It was her first day there with her son, and she joined our mini group. When we left, we included her in a hug. That felt great. I know how scary it is to start in a new place, and it felt so good to make her feel welcome. I could honestly tell her, that her son will be fine. That the teacher (Max’s former teacher) is wonderful. The school is great. And so we raised our rugelach (I skipped the croissants) and coffee cups, toasted our success, and high-fived each other on our first day back to school. We did it.
I wish everyone a great back to school week, and a wonderful year ahead! And to all the teachers who do the most remarkable work every day—Thank you!