This one is an oldie from way back in September 2010. I barely recognize my tender young self, shuttling a nervous kindergartener off to school and conquering PMS for the first time. Remember the days pre-online registration, when the kids would come home the first day with a thick packet of forms to fill out? With a top-of-the-world senior in the house, the dwindling number of First Days is feeling all too real for me. I’m trying hard not to dwell on the ‘lasts’ too much. I was even sentimental about our final, sweaty walk-through registration. But I’m sure you’ll excuse me if I draw the line on waxing romantically about the emergency forms.
What is it about a new school year? The air crackles with excitement for students and non-students alike. Not-so-deeply buried memories of new crayon boxes, new possibilities, and wondering who you’ll sit with at lunch.
Or maybe not. I saw a friend at Mulberry’s last Wednesday who sends her youngest off to college this year. For her, the week of back-to-school was bittersweet. She’s already seen two kids’ rooms go dark, and she’s about to see the final one fade away. She said she was a little numb about the whole thing, confused about what to do.
For the rest of us, the start of school brings maybe too much to do. Too much to think about. And too many forms to fill out. Danea Adams told me she takes an annual first-day photo with her kids on her front steps. She recently noticed that she looks bleary-eyed and weary in every first-day photo she has, because she doesn’t sleep well the night before. I’m in that club, too.
Last year I was reeling from two kids starting new schools (a kindergartener at Havens-at-Beach & a first time PMS’er) and one climbing aboard the much-anticipated buses. I didn’t sleep well for a week before school started. I thought this year would be better. But I woke up at 2:30am Wednesday morning panicked because I forgot to tell my friend Liz about Piedmont’s first-day etiquette. Luckily, she was put together enough to realize that 1) her husband was required to take the morning off work and 2) she needed a dazzling outfit for the “coffee” that first morning.
I wish someone had told me my first year, when I squandered all my energy on my reluctant kindergartener and slippery toddler, and don’t recall even washing my face. I’m also pretty sure I wore sweatpants.
However challenging your first week turned out to be, it’s good perspective to remember that everyone has a finite number of first days. Some day you’ll be walking past strangely empty bedrooms, wistfully recalling the struggles to get teeth brushed and backpacks loaded. Perhaps then, in a quiet moment, you’ll even be nostalgic for those duplicate registration forms.
When, exactly, did it become mandatory for every female under the age of 25 to purse her lips in a bizarre imitation of an about-to-be-kissed duck in photos? You may think this is a rhetorical question, but it is not. I looked it up. I found that the first Urban Dictionary definition for what was then called “myspace face” but quickly evolved to the site-neutral “duck face” was submitted on May 13, 2006. So this is already a decade-old phenomenon – that’s why it’s so profoundly tiresome. But why exactly do they do this baffling duck face thing? According to one delightful anti-duck face site (there are dozens), the point is to ‘make it look like you’ve got big pouty lips, a super-defined jawline, and model-quality cheekbones.’ Does anyone really believe that happens?
In these lazy, hazy days of summer you’ll have to forgive me, but I’m drawn to recycling what I’ve already written. This is from way back in October 2012. Reading that mind-blowing article about the Twins of Bogota this weekend has me thinking about how much of our identity comes from our genes, how much is imprinted by our environment, and how much will always be an unfathomable mystery.
Hovering in our soda aisle during the PMS early release last week, I overheard one of those classic “out of the mouths of babes” comments. A 6th grader told another 6th grader, “Miranda is smart at all the hard things, but I’m smart at all the easy ones.” Isn’t that the truth? Don’t most things you’re not “smart” at seem hard, and those that come easily seem simple?