Flashback Friday - The end of "summer"

Today marks the last weekday of summer vacation for the local kids. School starts back on Monday for my big first grader and all of his fellow schoolmates. Yesterday we walked down the familiar hallway, with the undeniable scents of elementary school infiltrating our nostrils every step of the way. Instead of turning left to go down the pre-k and kindergarten hall, my big man turned right to go down the first and second grade hallway. It's strange to me how comfortable and seasoned a first grader can be. For the kids who've been there since pre-k, 1st grade is kind of like the "junior" year of primary school. There's only one year left before they graduate onto bigger and better things - which is the elementary school next door, home to grades three through five.

At open house, we went through the motions like we were old pros. We found the classroom, met the teacher, signed my life away, and volunteered for a snack day.  We took a few pictures, collected the goodies at Ben's desk, said hey to teachers from the past two years, and went home.  I had a great feeling about his teacher, so that was a big relief.  I think it's going to be an excellent year.

My flashback today could be about the past summer and all of the things we did to keep us busy (and to keep Ben out of daycare).

Like our trip to the Nick Hotel

Complete with fun in a cabinet...

And the simple joys like playing out back with random pieces of wood

And catching frogs...

And slip-sliding away

I could flashback to our 4th of July trip to MD

Or the extended stay at Grandmom & Grandpop's house and the trips to Grammie & Grandaddy's house where they made one of Ben's childhood dreams come true...

All of which filled in the gaps to lead us here...Ben's Adventures in First Grade ~ Starting Monday, August 9th.

But what I really want to flashback to is this day...

This is the day Ben started Pre-K at the public primary school.  It's the very same day I realized how much of my heart actually belongs to this little boy.

I imagine it hit me so hard because he's my first.  Maybe that first child is always a little babied.  I just wasn't ready to let go of my baby boy.  Despite the fact that Ben would be the oldest in his class and the fact that he was born with the demeanor of a seasoned old man and clearly maturity would not be a problem, I worried about him.  I didn't sleep the night before thinking about my little four year old entering the big, bad realm of elementary school.  I feared what he would learn from all of the other unruly and delinquent little boys and girls.  I worried that he wouldn't know anyone and that he'd be too shy to make friends.  I stressed about him going through the lunch line, making the purchase, carrying his tray, opening his own milk.  I was afraid of bullies, of teachers who wouldn't be warm and loving, of how he'd hold up in a classroom of that size all day.

The first week of school, I parked my car and accompanied him inside.  I was so distraught I didn't even think to bring a camera.  My focus was my boy, and that was it.  I went with him to the lunchroom where he ate breakfast for a few days so I could watch him do it, and prove to myself that he was going to be okay come lunchtime.  I sat next to him and hid tears behind my sunglasses when he asked me to open his milk for him.  (I learned the sunglasses trick from my own mom who "masked" her tears behind them so many times I couldn't possibly count.)  I told him he needed to try or he needed to raise his hand and ask for help from the lunchlady because that's what he'd need to do when I wasn't sitting next to him.  I watched him balance his gigantic bookbag on his back and his awkwardly large tray out front as he carried the trash to the trashcan.

Then I had him prove to me that he could make it to his classroom.  He could, of course.  When we walked in, his (absolutely wonderful) teacher ran through the morning routine.  (Hey, that was good!  We like routines.)  He put his agenda in the slot labeled with his name and symbol.  He hung his bookbag on the hook labeled with his name and symbol.  Then he gave me a hug and the teacher looked at me and my ridiculously large sunglasses with a sympathetic smile and said, "He's going to be just fine, Mom."  I smiled and I don't even think I spoke.   I turned on my heel and high-tailed it out of there because the waterworks were coming and I knew I wasn't going to be able to stop them.

The truth is, I knew he was going to be just fine.  I was the one that wasn't.  I made it to the car before I lost it.  I felt like I'd made him a meat necklace and threw him into a cage full of rabid wolves.

When I picked him up that afternoon, there was a glimmer in his eye.  Just as I should have suspected, Ben loved school.  Knowing that helped.  

A little.

I still wore those sunglasses for a week.

And I'm still not sure why it was so hard for me.

What I am elated to report is that all of my worst fears were completely irrational.  I underestimated my own son, the other children, and the amazing teachers who spend their days educating our innocent boys and girls.  None of them were (or are) perfect, but they're all doing their best.  And what more can a crazy mom ask for?  After all, that's what I'm trying to do too.  With two years under his belt, Ben's got this school thing down.  He already told me he doesn't need me to walk him to class on the first day.  (Too bad, kid.)

I'll report back to you when Abby starts Pre-K next year.  My fears will be slightly different then, I imagine - along the lines of:  
How do I handle being the parent of the class clown?

See what I mean?

Have a Fabulous Friday!!!  (And if you read all of that, I'll make you some brownies.  But you have to come to my house to get them!)

Blog hopping today at Follow Me, Chickadee...


Diane said...

Brownies? did someone say brownies? yum..

Jennie, I could use my own pair of sunglasses right now... because I know just how you feel. Next year I have the double whammy of my last pre-K graduation and the 5th grade graduation... I'm going to need sunglasses for April, May, and June 2011. Maybe I should just start wearing them now (sniff...)

Denise said...

I'm in for brownies, too! Oh, what a sweet post. You brought tears to my eyes. I remember those days so well. Our children really are FINE but the mamas...not so much. I am so glad you made it to your car before you let loose. I am pretty sure I didn't and had all the other moms crying with me.
Thanks for bringing back all those sweet memories. And, I wish I'd known the sunglass trick. I sure could have used it!

Sherri said...

Awesome post...I'm a bit teary just reading it, and they aren't even MY kids!! I was so worried that my oldest wouldn't be able to open the milk, too. Plus he wasn't the most athletic kid, and my good friend and I spent hours at the local park before Kindergarten started just to make sure our boys could pump themselves on the swing!!

I love the sunglasses trick....hides many tears, those that the kids just wouldn't understand.

Lynn said...

So sunglasses or no sunglasses on Monday? First grade is a biggie! Man, does school start early wherever you are! But it looks like you had a great summer and packed alot in.

visiting from Follow Me Chickadee!

Lula Lola said...

I could have written this post! When my oldest started kindergarten, I think I used the phrase, "feeding him to wolves." He loved it, but I felt so off kilter!
My middle child started and I thought since we'd done this before and I still had a little one at home that it would be fine. I fell completely apart the first day.
My baby starts kindergarten soon and my oldest goes to middle school. I'm dreading it so much that I want to cry.
I love summer!
Your kids are adorable! The pictures just show how much they grow and how fast!

Debbie said...

You made me cry.
I could see you in my mind's eye and feel exactly what you were feeling standing there in those sunglasses. It's such a bittersweet time, and until you have walked that walk, you don't really understand. Then, suddenly, you "get" your own mother with such clarity.

I am particularly weepy about this kind of thing for obvious reasons. How I envy you this time. I miss it. I love it that you cherish it so.

Shoot. Now, I'm crying again.
Wonderful post, Jennie!
I'll be there around 10:00 for the brownies.

Lorilynne said...

My daughter will be starting preschool next year and I'm already getting a bit weepy about it (and I have a year to prepare!). This post was so sweet and made me cry just imagining the day that I will go through it.

Lies We Tell Ourselves said...

Thank you for the comment on my blog. I'm now following you. Feel free to follow my journey as well.


Anonymous said...

You made me tear up!

(and yum, brownies....)


Andrea said...

Blessings and prayers,

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