I hope I can sleep tonight

By Mir
August 29, 2006

Today was Open House at school, because someone decided that it would be a really splendiferous idea, this year, on account of so many people usually missing Open House because of summer travel and all, to have Open House the day before school starts.

That’s terribly helpful. An entire summer of “but where will I go?” and “what will my desk be like?” and a whole 22 hours of foreknowledge to soothe any wayward concerns. I’d like to meet the person who planned it this way, because I would like to thank them personally.

And the bus schedule was never sent out. Also useful. What HAS the administration been doing all summer? I may be in the wrong line of work.

So we did the Open House thing; met both teachers, scoped out the classrooms, ran into a gazillion people and tried to chat amidst the din. When we finally left, I decided we’d swing by Monkey’s old school on our way home to visit the teachers there. Both kids had them for kindergarten and it was a lovely reunion all around. I don’t know if it helped, transition-wise, but it just seemed like the thing to do.

The afternoon flew by with appointments and errands, and I tried to get a few things done while the kids went off to Tae Kwon Do and dinner with their dad. When they came home, I started to realize the enormity of the preparation ahead of me.

Rereading the “welcome” letters that had been sent home, we remembered that Monkey needed a stuffed animal in a bag (I don’t ask questions, I just do what they tell me) and Chickadee needed either a postcard from somewhere she went this summer (oops) or a picture of her doing something she enjoys (that was easier). Check.

Both kids needed water bottles to keep at school, but had to deliberate amongst their choices. Check.

Loaded pencil boxes and other gear had already been placed into their pristine backpacks, but now I removed the class donation items and bundled them into a separate bag, first, before putting them back into their packs. I am not confident that Monkey wouldn’t come right back home with 2 boxes of tissues, a canister of antibacterial wipes, and some dry erase markers, if left to his own devices. This way I could say: THIS HERE BAG OF STUFF goes to the teacher. Check.

I sent Monkey up to take a shower while Chickadee and I checked the weather forecast. Then we went upstairs and set the alarm on her clock. Now that she’s in third grade, she seems to feel she should shower in the morning. I have tried to talk her out of this, but she won’t budge. I have agreed to try it on a trial basis; the first time she pulls her typical early morning sloth routine and can’t get out of bed and into the shower (or, say, makes it into the shower but spends an hour in there), she’s back to nightly showers. Early alarm set? Check.

We laid out her clothes for tomorrow: the skirt she picked out because it is sufficiently twirly, a multicolored t-shirt, and her new shoes (Skechers’ version of Crocs) which I have cruelly not allowed her to wear yet. It will be cold in the morning, so she wanted a cardigan to wear over the top. Her only cardigan is an off-white pretty little thing, bought to wear over her Easter dress this past year. She begged with earnest promises to keep it clean to please please PLEASE be allowed to wear it tomorrow. I remembered how the outfit she wore on the first day of school two years ago came home saturated in paint that never washed out, and how the outfit she wore on the first day of school last year came home crusted in mud and ripped. She makes puppy eyes. I agree to let her wear the sweater. Check.

Monkey got out of the shower and I pulled two shirts from his closet for him to choose between. He cannot decide; in fact, he is moved to tears. Over shirts. I helpfully pointed out that whichever one he doesn’t wear tomorrow, he can wear another time! Perhaps the very next day, even! He made his selection and I folded it into a neat pile with his shorts and his new shoes (also Skechers’ Crocs). Check.

While the kids brushed their teeth, I changed the sheets on their beds. One more check of the alarm clocks and a chapter of our book later, I am giving hugs and kisses and reminding them that yes, it will be hard to fall asleep tonight, but they should do their best to just settle down and rest. There is no need (Monkey) to come out of your room and announce that you are still awake. (Chickadee: I never do that.) (Monkey discovered something shiny in the corner, right around this point.) More hugs and kisses are given and they are tucked in for the night. Check.

At this point I thought I could sit down and do some work. Or maybe relax. HAHAHAHA. Back downstairs, I double-checked their backpacks. I put a snack in the front pocket of each one, and got out their lunchbags. I put some juice boxes in the fridge and sliced the pan of rice krispie treats.

(Then I may have stopped and sampled the rice krispie treats, just because I’m a concerned parent, like that.)

Each lunchbag got a generous krispie square in a baggie in the bottom. I then set about actually making their lunches—I feel the need to note this, because it’s probably the only time all year when I’ll remember to do it the night before instead of 5 minutes before the bus comes. Sandwiches are assembled and in the fridge, as are baggies of raw veggie assortments. Green beans and celery for both. Carrots for Monkey, grape tomatoes and a little container of ranch dressing for Chickadee. Check.

I grabbed two napkins, wrote each child a note, and put the napkins in their lunchbags. (I wanted to write “I’m sorry the summer ended up being sort of boring and I hope today is incredibly exciting and you make lots of new friends and no one is mean to you and you’re not scared and you remember who you are and that I love you more than anything on this planet absolutely no matter what,” but I restrained myself.) I kept Monkey’s simple enough for him to read without help and made a stupid joke on Chickadee’s. Check.

After puttering around downstairs for a bit, I came up and checked on the kids. Chickadee is sleeping sprawled to the corners of her bed, magically taking up twice as much space as when awake, arms flung wide to accept whatever’s coming her way. She sighs a lot while she’s asleep. Monkey is curled up with his head halfway under the pillow, blankets twisted around his legs, muttering a bit in a language all his own.

So it’s up to me to tend their butterflies, which are now my butterflies, until morning. And at breakfast I will assure them that I haven’t a worry about everything going just fine, and I will smile and they will believe me.

And that’s really kind of awesome.


  1. shannon

    they will have a great first day of school. you will probably have the butterflies until they come home to tell you that.

    then again, i don’t have kids and may not know squat.

    hang in there, mom!

  2. InterstellarLass

    I think this is going to be a great school year. Both of mine came home on the first day and were loving it! A month in and they’re both still happy.

  3. Laura

    I just did much of the same for my daughter who is entering 1st grade. Unpacked and repacked the lunch (we have a child in the class who has a severe nut allergy, and me with a PB&J addicted daughter…) We *ENDLESSLY* discussed what she would wear, which bodes well for the teenage years. The verdict was her new brown corduroy gauchos. Yep, they are back. I’ve now poured myself a big old glass of wine to calm the nerves that welled up when I met her teacher who appears to lack, shall we say, warmth. Oy.

    But tomorrow she will bounce out the door with her characteristic enthusiasm,and I won’t need to convince her that all will be well because she will have convinced me.

    She rocks.

  4. karen t

    I’ve got the jitters and we have a week to go yet. Well done for packing the lunches the night before. No hint of sarcasm there believe me -I’ve never managed to do that yet even for the first day back. It’s on my list of things to do before I’m 40.

  5. David

    Very sweet. Dare I say it? I think Kira’s rubbing off on you. ;-)

  6. Bob

    So, the kids are at school by now. They are safely busy getting settled in. How are mom’s jitters this morning? An old pro like you has probably COMPLETELY moved on and is busy working in a distraction-free environment, already past the wonder of the quietness in the house.

    If you want, I’ll call and complain to you about how my brother won’t stay on his side of the couch and that my sister has taken my last bite of poptart. Just to wean you slowly from a kid-filled summer.

  7. tori

    I have started packing the lunches for the next day right after they get on the bus for the current day. If I don’t do it that way, I totally forget or it hangs over my head all day that I will need to remember to do it.

    Good choice with putting the school supplies in a bag for Monkey to had to his teacher. I have learned my lesson with my son, and now do things that way too. My daughters have no problem remembering to turn things in to their teacher, but my son only remembers if I bag them and repeat over and over “give this bag to your teacher, give this bag to your teacher”. Even then sometimes he does end up forgetting.

  8. OneTiredMomma

    You’re such a good Momma!

    Today’s post got me all tingly. I too put my big first grader on the bus this am. And it was late. Because it was late the busdriver shooed me along. I hate to be shooed. I like to interact with the man responsible for my daughters life. Sadly, today was not that day, good thing we have 10 months of wonderful interaction.

  9. rachel

    I can’t believe they’re starting before labor day! gah.

    So glad they are excited. Hoping the first day is going well!

  10. Velma

    I just put my girl on her bus and am getting her brother ready to go meet his new preschool teacher. Hoorah! Last night, after much begging and worrying about missing the bus, I agreed to let her put on the outfit she’d chosen for school and sleep in it. We ended up with 10 minutes to kill waiting until it was time to head to the bus stop, so I think she’ll be calmer tonight.

  11. kim

    We did the back to school shopping thing yesterday, so now the anxiety of school starting can finally sink in.
    I swear the list of “needed” items gets larger and larger every year.
    Way to go for packing lunches the night before!

  12. Lesley

    Our first day of school? Awesome. Today (second day of school)? I threatened to shave two of their heads–and one of them’s a girl. ; 0 Here’s to a great first day, and may yours start their second day with hair!

  13. Vanda

    I hope all goes well and by tonight you’ll be wondering why you were so nervous;-)

  14. chris

    I wish I was there to drink some coffee and eat a rice crispy treat with you after they got on the bus.

    And also give you hug.

  15. Aimee

    Happy first day of school, Chickie and Monkey!

  16. Mom Nancy

    Our school always does open house during the first full week of school and it drives me crazy! Isn’t the whole point to meet the teacher and get the lay of the land BEFORE school begins? I always drag them there the week before school and tell the office that we’re just there to peek in their classrooms – and don’t give them the opportunity to decline.

  17. Susan

    This is my favorite back-to-school post ever.

    And what is it with the boys and the announcing of their awakeness? We have that here, too.

  18. Kathy

    Isn’t back to school time awesome??!

  19. Dana

    Oh Mir, your writing in this post made me remember all my first days of school each year. The anticipation, the sleepless nights, being anxious.

    I have a few years before Dawson goes to school, but I still remember these same feelings.

    I hope Chickadee and Monkey have fabulous first days!

  20. Susan

    I love mamas who are as involved in their kids’ lives!

    I hope they have a FABULOUS first day! I’m positive they will.

    And extra kudos to you for the notes in the lunches! My kids love it when I do that.

  21. Shiz

    Awesome. It will be great.

  22. ScottsdaleGirl

    My first day of kindergarten is such a vivid memory…oreo cookies and milk when I got home. ahhhhh. Oooh and the first day of high school, Dr. pepper and cheetos when I got home.

  23. carolyn

    Mir, you are a good mother.

  24. Kathryn, DYM

    I hope they’re having a wondeful day. Don’t forget to make their lunches for tomorrow. Why not do it now?

  25. Amy-Go

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year….;)

  26. BugsMom

    I so want to be a good mommy like you are when I grow up…or when my child gets that age anyway.

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