Love starts again

By Mir
August 6, 2009

Yesterday was… kind of a long day. To put it mildly.

As I’ve mentioned before, both kids are going to new schools this year—Chickadee is moving on to middle school, and Monkey was redistricted out of our beloved little elementary school. Yesterday we had meetings and orientation, and somehow the entire afternoon became an exercise in getting crushed in crowds at one school, then repeating at the second school, and then going back to the first school to do it all again.

Sixth grade orientation took TWO HOURS, and by the end of that time we still hadn’t met all of Chickie’s teachers. But she made a name placard to put in her locker and got a soggy ice cream sandwich, so I guess that’s all we needed.

By the time we were at the end of our Parade of School Visits, Monkey had pretty much had it, Chickadee was pouting and whining, and I have to admit, it was a good way to make sure I was looking forward to seeing them off this morning. Ahem.

We came home and regrouped and had dinner and I took lunch requests and everyone went to bed early.

This morning I got up at o’dark thirty and made my coffee and packed lunches with encouraging little notes written on the napkins, and then I baked cinnamon rolls and blended smoothies for breakfast. I twirled Monkey into a little waltz around the kitchen when he came squeaking down the stairs in his brand! new! sneakers! and complimented his excellent job of brushing his hair and his nice shirt. I got him settled with breakfast and went up to check on Chickadee and came back down and went through some email while Otto chatted with Monkey, and then once Chickadee was out of the shower and dressed we forced them outside for pictures, because that’s the kind of horrible, mean, obnoxious parents we are.

A lot of things are different this year; as much as I feel like Chickadee has changed more this summer than perhaps any other time in her life (excluding the first year, when your kid seems magically different and bigger every week), the just-one-year-older neighbor girl walked out for the bus this morning looking about 17. The transition from big fish in a little pond to tiny fish in a pond where it’s hard to tell some of the students from the teachers is a terrifying one.

And although we’ve done everything we can to acclimate Monkey to the new school beforehand, he is not only dealing with the loss of his old environment, he’s now getting to the point where he’s “one of the big kids” and will be expected to behave accordingly. And none of us quite know, yet, if he can do that.

The kids got new bus numbers to memorize. But we’re close enough to walk to Monkey’s school, really, and so we’ve decided to compromise; we’ll walk in the morning, and he can take the bus back in the afternoon. This morning we walked along, holding hands, talking about how soon we’ll have a dog to take along on our morning trek, and how when it gets a little bit cooler, maybe we can ride our bikes, and wow, look at all of those dead bugs over there, I bet you don’t see THAT when you ride the bus. The opportunity to give my son 15 minutes of my undivided attention (along with some much-needed repetitive movement) to start his day is a little unexpected gift in this whole school-change thing.

Chickadee will take the bus or maybe Otto will drive her, normally, but this morning after I walked back from dropping Monkey, we all piled into the car and headed in to drop her off for the first day. We inched along, as we turned into the school driveway, caught in the traffic of parents all doing what we were doing.

“Okay, start the long goodbye!” called out Otto, as we were still a dozen cars back from where we could let Chickadee out.

“Mah BAYBEEEEEE!” I wailed, throwing my hands in the air for emphasis.

“Oh my GOD,” Chickadee groaned, rolling her eyes at me and suddenly seeming yes, exactly old enough to go to middle school and tell all of her friends what a dork her mother is.

I turned around and grinned at her. “Have a great first day, sweetie. It’s going to be FINE.” She tried to return my smile, but wasn’t very successful. “It’s okay to be a little nervous,” I added. “Everyone else is, too. But you’re going to love it.” Now she did smile, a little.

We said our goodbyes and our “I love you”s and then she was gone, walking up to the door behind a kid who was two heads taller than her, making her look extra tiny and vulnerable.

When we took pictures, earlier, Chickadee had exclaimed, “Why do you always take pictures of our SHOES?” And I tried to explain that it’s the new shoes that scream “FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL” to me. They’re never so bright and white again. No matter where they go to school or what grade they’re in, there are always new shoes on the first day.

New shoes look like hope, to me. I look at them and the feet that jiggle and bounce with nervousness inside of them, and know that in no time at all I will blink and the shoes will be falling apart and their owners will be in a groove and have totally forgotten about this day when they started over, full of worried anticipation.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. Here’s to both the new shoes of life, and the process of breaking them in and getting them dirty.


  1. exile on mom street

    Awwwwww. Happy first day of school to Monkey and Chickie!

    I think it’s rather smart to have them start on Thursday (not just because, OBVIOUSLY the school board took Love Thursday into account) but because it makes the first week shorter and therefore less overwhelming.

  2. Burgh Baby

    I hope you managed to get yourself a new pair of shoes for the first day of school as well, so that you and Monkey can break in your shoes together over these next few weeks.

  3. Aimee

    I love the shoe pictures!

    Happy first day of school, Chickadee and Monkey!

  4. Grace

    What a sweet post! Monkey and Chickie are going to do great. And I agree–Mir should get new shoes for school too!

  5. sassymonkey

    Gah. Chickadee’s shoes look…not like little kid shoes!

  6. JennyM

    Oh, great, thanks. Now I’m humming “Always walk in the New Shoes of Life…” to the tune of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.” Well, at least the other song is out of my head now…. :)

    I think everyone should get new shoes at the end of the summer. I remember the excitement of finally being able to pull the new shoes out of the box where they’d been sitting, waiting for the first day of school.

  7. Katie in MA

    Gracie starts kindergarten in three weeks. SHE is fine. SHE is excited. MOM is a bundle of nerves! Perhaps we both need new shoes. :)

  8. ashley

    I always look forward to your Love Thursday posts because although I don’t read any other Love Thursday posts, I imagine yours must be the best.

  9. Megan

    Oh that first day of Middle School. There’s nothing like it – nothing – because the stark difference between the teeny-tiny, still-kinda-kidlike 6th graders and the hulking 8th graders is so very startling. I think we walked the schedule of classes about three times for each Child, possibly just as much to give me the confidence that they knew the route as to get them oriented in the bewilderingly huge school.

    And now my final Child is an enormous, six foot monster who, last night, cleaned its bathroom without asking AND gave me a foot rub. After asking to sit down and watch an old, favorite movie snuggling on the couch. Dang this parenting gig is sweet.

  10. Alison C

    Good luck to you all!

  11. Kelly

    Aww – it seems like yesterday you posted last year’s shoe pic (and was that pic with the lens baby?)

  12. Nicki

    I still have a few weeks to find the perfect new shoes. Oh, for the kids, too.

    They grow too quickly. And it makes me think I should feel old. I mean…my baby is starting middle school.

    Thank you for teaching me to handle it with grace and humor. I’ll try not to embarass him at the bus stop…try, not promise.

    Hope they come back with colorful reports on their first day!

    Happy Love Thursday!

  13. Debbi

    I hope both of them have a very wonderful day today. I love your comment about new shoes and new starts :-) Can’t wait to hear how their first days go!

  14. Mary

    Good luck, Monkey and Chickadee!

    And where did you get Chickadee’s shoes??? I just have to have those. After all, I may not be starting school personally but I do work at one, so don’t I deserve a new pair, too?!?!?

  15. StephLove

    I’m glad you’ve figured out what orientation is for. I’ve been wondering.

  16. Jen

    Lovely. Just lovely. Hope this year goes smoothly for all…

  17. Scottsdale Girl

    I went to the same school from K through 8th, then walked across the street to high school. First day – freshman year was the first SUPER anxiety ridden “first day” at school day for me. I have some vivid memories of it. Including putting on “Lee Press On Nails” and one of them falling off onto the choir bleachers during a particularly SILENT part of class. Lord.

  18. Tracy

    New shoes….new school…new buses…No wonder they are full of anticipation. I’m nervous for them. I hated the 1st day of school. Happy Love Thursday.

  19. My Kids Mom

    You get it. No one else got it when I said that the back to school shoe shopping for my about-to-start-kindergartener left me teary. I’ll be sappy on Monday too, when he’s all nervous and excited, but new shoes are so final– Summer. Is. Over.

  20. Pepper

    I hated school (for various valid reasons) but I LOVED the first day, something about the new books, new shoes, new clothes and seeing my friends that were away all summer made me super excited.

    My mom used to make us get the first day of school pics too, and as I got older you could see the eye roll that said “MOMMMMMMMM i am to old for this!” but now I look back at it and those pictures mean alot to me. Its funny how many memories come back from looking at them.

  21. ttulizzy

    Geez, I like totally teared up here. At work. Great post, and happy first day of school!

  22. Javamom

    We have another month to go before school starts but you’d never know it going to the retail stores…do they have to push erasers on us poor souls in the middle of the summer?

    Happy new school year!

  23. Flea

    Oh crap. I totally forgot about shoes. I have to get shoes for three pairs of feet before next Thursday.

    Happy Love Thursday, Mir!

  24. pharmgirl

    Ever notice that only women & horses fully appreciate the power of new shoes?

    Quote my maternal unit: “You’re halfway there when you start with a great foundation.” (also works with bras :-)

    Happy Back to School!

  25. Headless Mom

    Dammit. You always make me cry.

  26. Kimi

    Aww This REALLY brings back memories for me. It’s one of the aspects of parenthood I’m really looking forward to (and not at the same time).

  27. Kelly

    What a great post. Thanks for sharing. I really enjoy your writing. :)

  28. ChristieNY

    My son starts Kindergarten this year. I’m going to have to buy him a new pair of shoes. And I think I’ll need a hanky. Lovely post, Mir. =)

  29. MomCat

    Awww…very soleful!

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