Sunday night excitement tingled through the air. Keith was going back to school, Mimi would be coming to our house again, and I would be doing a carpool with my cousin and her kids. We were all excited for the change and structure school brings. I got the kids ready for bed and tucked them in by 7:30. They were shiny and pink and smelled like lavender from their bubble baths. Jeffrey and I divided and conquered with bedtime, him doing the girls upstairs and me doing Keith downstairs. As I pulled his white down blanket up to his neck, stuffing the blankets all around him, encasing him in a fluffy cocoon, he smiled at me, his face alight with eagerness and anticipation. We talked briefly about the next day, I sang his lullaby, kissed him, said goodnight, and went upstairs to clean up the house so everything would be shiny happy for the new school year.
A few hours later, while I was washing dishes, a little blond head popped up over the stair rail, a sheepish grin framing his teeth. "Mom, I can't sleep." he said. I sighed. It was nearly ten o'clock. His first day of school was the next day and he would be going overly tired. Great. I told him he needed to go back to bed, he didn't want to be tired for his first day of school. And he lawyered me.
With great negotiating skill, Keith talked me into sleeping in the basement with him. Only then would he go to bed. Out of frustration and just wanting to get him back to bed, I agreed and he happily went back downstairs, and I went back to the dishes.
When it was way too late, I finally finished cleaning the upstairs. I have a bad habit of deep cleaning when I don't have time, thus staying up way too late. But my floors got mopped, my couch got scrubbed down, the bathroom got bleached, and door frames got washed. Because I just can't stop when I am too tired. It is really weird. I collapsed on the futon and finally fell asleep around 2 in the morning.
At 6:30 Keith woke up and came out of his room with disheveled hair and a worried look on his face.
"Mom, I can't sleep. I don't want to go to school." he whispered. I pulled back the covers and motioned for him to crawl in and cuddle with me while we talked about it. He revealed he was nervous about having a new room, a new table, a new teacher, and not knowing anyone in his class. Mostly, though, he was nervous about being at school
After talking through his fears for a while, he felt better and we went up to make breakfast and get him ready for school. The morning flew by much too quickly and before I knew it, it was time to head out the door and take him to school.
Of course, we did the obligatory front door pictures. My camera was not behaving, so I only got a few.
And then we were off.
I drove him to school, waited in the ridiculously long drop off line, watched as the other freshly polished and pressed kids climbed out of their cars and walked with their parents into the school. I pulled up to the curb, kissed Keith's cheek, and he jumped out of the van and was swallowed up by the crowd and the front doors of his school. As I watched him disappear, a small lump formed in my throat and my eyes got a little misty. I was surprised at my involuntary reaction. I was happy for him. Excited. But it made me sad, and I missed him fiercely all day long. I still do every day. I exited the parking lot, and as soon as I did, I had a realization. I should have parked the car and walked with him to his class like all the other parents did! I shouldn't have just dropped him off, I should have gone with him. But I was getting back into the zone, the routine of last year, and I somehow slipped and forgot to make it a special moment, which may have contributed to those silly tears in my eyes.
We drove home and began our usual school routine. I played with the girls for a bit, put Beth down for a nap and then did school time with Faye. Mimi came over, and we got her set up, played with her for a bit, and then it was time to go get Keith. He is early out all week this week. And next week too, actually. Then after that it will be full day. They wanted to ease him into full day school, which is sweet and annoying at the same time.
I have to say, it is nice to have the routine back. Summer was way too chaotic and undisciplined, and I think the routine helps me just as much as it does the kids.
When I picked Keith up from school, I asked him what his favorite part was. He said it was the lunch I had packed him. That certainly made my mom pride swell.
Thus far he hasn't had another "I don't want to go to school" episode, but the year has just begun, and he is a homebody, so I anticipate many in the future. Sigh.
But for now, I will take the eagerness and excitement! Look out First grade, here he comes!