The return to school is like New Year’s Day. As much as I love summer, there’s a certain level of excitement about starting new projects and accomplishing new goals. Change is good, and a fresh start is incredibly inspiring.
OK. Enough of that crap. You know I’m feeling sentimental about vacation’s end. I hate making my girls go to bed before dark and fall out before sunrise. I absolutely dread the crying jags that hit just as we’re locking the front door. The thought of fourth grade Math makes me sick to my already nauseated stomach.
But, I can’t let my daughters sense these anxieties. I have to fake it.
You may be thinking, “Oh, come on! Stop dwelling on the negative! School is fun! Kids love it once they get there!”
Really? Did you?
The reality is they have to go. School isn’t an option unless I like the way I look in an orange jumpsuit. As thankful as I am to be in a school district that provides my daughters with a top quality education, I still wish I could homeschool them. My daughters wish I could homeschool them. But I know that idea isn’t in their best interests, because they need exposure to other kids (I guess) and they need to learn how to deal with different and difficult personalities (unfortunately). They need to learn how to be away from me, and how to manage on their own. They need some breathing room to find out what they like and who they really are outside of my critical, parental stare.
It is well documented that my daughters and I are close. Some people may argue that my extravagant emotions border on what’s called an unnatural attachment. Others may state that I’m a spoiled parent. Gossips will whisper to one another that my nostalgia is as annoying as my blog. I ask commentators to hold those thoughts. My day is coming. When my “babies” become teenagers, I may experience something completely different. My mother and I endured a six-year war that ended in a weary truce when I left for college. She deserved the Purple Heart for putting up with my smart mouth and bad attitude. I’m prepared for the day that both daughters hate the sound of my voice, which is why I’m cherishing time with them now.
Ava and Maryn haven’t had a babysitter since June. Mike and I went out for dinner only once this summer. That’s a lot of togetherness, especially when two of those weeks were spent in the aftermath of a land hurricane that took away both electricity and water. Yet we never got tired of each other. Tired? Yes. But not of each other. I loved working before they rolled out of the rack and after they’d go to bed so I could have the best part of the day with them. We spent hours at the pool and the bookstore, and we watched entirely too much TV. We walked off cartons of frozen yogurt at Ulta, playing with makeup and trying on so many different perfumes that we had to air ourselves out in the parking lot. We sat on the patio and danced to One Direction songs (over and over and over again), and we watched a few outdoor movies on a paint tarp thrown over the side porch. We made our annual pilgrimage to the Outer Banks, where we ate enough shrimp to turn ourselves a permanent shade of pink (or was that sunburn?). Did we do anything particularly special? No, but it was special anyway.
However, all good things must come to an end. I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to have six hours to myself — or to clients — and I’ve forgotten that I can run to the grocery store without whines of protest. I can take a three-mile walk around the track without panicking when two blonde heads drift out of sight. I can catch up with a friend at lunch without having to search for a sitter, and I can put away toys and clothes and know that they’ll stay in their proper places for more than 15 minutes. I don’t have to watch annoying cartoons while I eat some sort of boxed breakfast, and I don’t have to listen to the Wakey Blakey Show on Radio Disney. I can start writing my second book wherever I feel like it, as opposed to the basement that kept summer hours of 6 to 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. to midnight.
It seems unfair to make kids bid farewell to summer in the middle of August and in 90-degree heat (although we adults have to do it). I loved it when school started after Labor Day and wrapped up in early June. We didn’t forget multiplication facts or how to read and write. We were never that bored, because we lived outside and next door to kids our exact age. Nevertheless, it’s not right to pass my insecurities, wants and needs onto my children. But they’re a lot like me and I can’t do much about it. We have a nice, little life in a comfortable little home, and above all else — we’re safe (as long as that massive, dead oak tree stays in the ground).
This Friday, reality strikes and I’ll have to play pretend. I’ll get up in a ridiculously chipper mood and shout “BIG FIRST GRADER!” as I pull back the covers and shake summer out of little shoulders. Then, I’ll make a big fuss about the 9-year-old’s cute outfit, and announce how pretty her longer hair looks. I’ll stuff backpacks with lunches I know they won’t eat, adding that we’ll go out for dessert that evening to celebrate the new year. We’ll take a dozen pictures by the front door, by the car, and in front of the school. I’ll walk them in on the first day to make sure they get to the correct classrooms; waving enthusiastically to kids they haven’t seen since the end of May. “There’s Jack! You remember Jack, right?!” We’ll reach the door; I’ll give them a gentle nudge to keep their feet moving, and remind everyone (teachers included) that I’ll be on the pick-up lot at 2:45.
And then I’ll run like hell.
Tags: separation anxiety