Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The first day of school.

Yesterday began our new school year routine, and for the most part it went well. I started the morning by having the kids all dress like twins so I could take a picture. Although the kids are staged, the dog is not. Sammy saw us coming and jumped on the bench to see what his herd of children were up to. I couldn't cajole or threaten him off that bench, and I do not have the brute force necessary to move such a stubborn beast, so in the end I capitulated and let him remain in the picture. As soon as I was done snapping away, Matt raced off to change his clothes. What is wrong with going to school in the same shirt your Jr. High brother is wearing??

I would have taken pictures of Matt in his first-day-of-school clothes, but he never gave me a chance. As soon as I pulled up to the drop off spot he bolted. Zoom. He was gone. He didn't even give me a chance to walk him to class and take his picture with his teachers. Don't high school kids do that anymore? Surely I was a perfectly docile child who let my mother do things like that!

Unlike their incorrigible brother, Faith and Chet are still perfectly willing to wave and say good-bye as they leave the car. Apparently hugs and kisses are out of the question at this stage of their lives. Why? I always kissed my mom good-bye in front of all my friends. I am sure of it.

These two still love me entirely. I got neck hugs and cheek kisses as well as a "Bye Mom! I love you!" as they poured out of the truck and headed confidently in the direction of their education. With a serious case of mixed emotions, I rejoiced that Beth still has two more weeks before I have to start dropping her off at school in the mornings and headed to work.

Kyle's confidence dissolved as soon as he hit the classroom. He has come so far, but is still a fundamentally shy boy who likes to be surrounded by the people he knows and mostly loves. He left his backpack in the classroom, returned to the lunchroom, and borrowed a server's cellphone to call me. I answered my phone and heard, "Mom... I am scared and I need you to come get me and take me home." He had no specific fears, he was simply overwhelmed. I asked him if he had eaten yet, and he said no. I told him to grab some breakfast, and I was on my way to walk him to class. All he heard was "I am on my way."

Beth and I arrived at the lunchroom, where he was sitting so desolately by himself on the bench closest to the door, and he sprang to his feet and said, "Let me go get my stuff and I will be ready to go." We had a back and forth conversation about what he was scared of, how he had to go to school, and in which he found all sorts of reasons to ask to go to work with me instead of attending school. In the midst of my gallant effort of being a compassionate mother, I paused to snap this picture.

Although it was blurry, and this child understands that blurry is usually bad, he wouldn't let me retake it. Hmph. Apparently it got his attention, though, and after a little more discussion about child labor laws, the joy of learning, and photography attempts, I think I might have mentioned that if he didn't go to school I could go to jail. Suddenly he decided to dry his eyes, and offered to show me how to get to his class.

We came to a staircase, about ten feet from his door, and he came to the conclusion that he didn't really want me to walk him all the way to his room. The risk of being seen by his friends outweighed his worry of being alone, but it didn't prevent him from volunteering a quick hug and another kiss before he said goodbye and headed off timidly in the direction of his education.

Do you think someday he will see the bigger story? That he will remember that he called for his mother in a moment of deep worry and she came. That he will understand that he can't skip out just because he is afraid? That he will know I always do what I think is best for him, even if he doesn't like my decisions? That being the child of an amateur photographer means he should never ever ever let me choreograph his childhood slideshow for his wedding because I have a wealth of perectly imperfect pictures of moments like these to share with the world?

The events of the morning wore Beth out. After I got off work, she crashed on the couch. Does this look like a comfy way to sleep to you? Who folds up like a pretzel for a nap?

This year has brought a new change; a monumental moment for the younger kids. They are all riding the bus home this year. I enjoyed the quiet afternoon at home with my sleepy pre-schooler, and headed outside to enjoy the rest of the quiet time before the bus lumbered down the road to bring my kidlets home.

Sammy and Beagle enjoyed following me around the yard.

Aren't these gorgeous? They have sprung up all over my yard, and in several places around town. I think Roberta told me they are called Surprise Lilies. They are indeed a lovely surprise.

The dogs and I also spotted this itsy bitsy teeny weeny spider webby heebie jeebie. For perspective, this is piece of that small wheat-like stuff that grows in the grass. The spider web is really very tiny. Moments like these always remind me of the Conan movie that had man-sized spiders that haunted my dreams for months to come. I am and will forever be grateful that spiders don't grow that big. If they can do this to a blade of grass, can you imagine what would happen to us if we were on their menu?
Poor old Red. He looks sad, doesn't he? He really isn't, though. Can you guess what is wrong with him? It has nothing to do with being old, or having his kids gone all day again, or even because he is napping. No... this dog, who doesn't flinch when cars are driving right at him and eats fireworks and turns them on his people is absolutely, positively terrified of the camera. He always has been. That is why I have no pictures of him sitting, or looking at me. Even with my long lens on, he somehow knows when the camera is aimed at him and he turns away. See how his ears perked up when he heard the lens click? He was gone a moment later. I never got to reframe the shot and try again. I never do. Scaredy dog.

At last, the bus pulled up and my kids came bouncing home. They had lots to tell me about their first day, and everybody said they had a good time and loved it. Even my reluctant Kyle had glowing reports about the rest of his day.

I have one issue with the first day of school. Just one. p-a-p-e-r-w-o-r-k It should be against the law to have to fill out that many forms. By hand. Ugh. Five kids in school multiplied by six to ten different forms per kid equals a really big hand cramp. And the sad thing is that I am not done filling out forms yet. It all seems so archaic to me in my digital world! I have never missed the copy and paste commands more in my life than I do on the the first day of school!


Butterfly Dreamer said...

I can totally sympathize with you. My hugs and kisses stopped many years ago w/ my boys. At least Courtney still loves me for a little bit longer, maybe a year more,(two would be nice).

Katherine B. said...

Your first day of school post made me cry this morning. It is such a hard thing being a mom and staying strong, yet loving. You rock at it!! The kidos have grown so much!! And I never thought about having that many kids and ALL of the paperwork! LOL!

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