Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The dream...and the reality

I loved school when I was younger (who am I kidding, I loved it when I was older, too).  There was nothing better than scanning the aisles for the coolest school supplies and picking a new backpack and lunchbox each year.  Clothes shopping was a hassle, but I enjoyed dressing up in a new fall outfit for that first (85 degree) day.

So each year I eagerly anticipate shopping with and for Brady in preparation for school.  I feel lucky that he loves school as much as I did and counts down the days months in advance (so am I, but for different reasons these days).  I check out all the ads, compare the deals, collect my coupons, and am prepared to do business.  Brady joined me this year, and we tried to make a game out of crossing the items off his school list.  It went well for the first ten minutes or so until he got hungry...then bored...then spied a $30 backpack that was NOT on my list.  I decided we had come to the end of our productive time and we checked out.  I'm not sure how the total got so high, even with my coupons and smart shopping, and we still had clothes for both kids and supplies for Maryn left to go (and the teacher gifts that are in no way a bribe, but just a friendly reminder that I'm here to support them).

Clothes shopping promised to be less stressful as John had the kids at home while I went out myself.  It took four or five trips to separate stores to find what we needed in prices I was willing to pay.  They were washed and ready weeks before school, so of course the kids got into them and demanded to wear them immediately.  Maryn dressed herself in a long-sleeved shirt with rainbow stripes and hearts, along with hot pink pants with polka dots.  Brady selected a striped pirate shirt with multi-colored plaid shorts for his meet the teacher day at school.  By the time the night before school arrived, I decided I should try on Brady's new shorts, only to discover they were way way too big (the opposite problem from last year, in which Maryn outgrew all her new clothes the night before school started).  This necessitated another run to the mall as it was closing to find another pair of shorts in the correct size (three stores later).  Of course, he was oblivious to this, as well as the new backpack I had snuck in as his old one was lost.  Then I got busy preparing his lunch, which he and Maryn begged to eat immediately, even though it was bedtime.

I spent days filling out the necessary paperwork for the school, then packed it in his backpack along with the teacher's gift, and her requested toys for the treasure chest.  It was so full that he had to carry his lunchbox separately (with a love note tucked inside), and I reminded him several times not to leave it on the bus or he would be without lunch (we had forgotten in all the preparations to put money into his lunch account).  We all accompanied him to the bus stop and took pictures, and waved him off to new adventure.  I wondered all day what he was learning and how he was enjoying his new experiences.  I couldn't wait to hear about it when he got back home.

A promising start

As I was at work when he got home, I got a text from John letting me know that Brady was in no mood to talk.  He was starving and exhausted and was already fighting with Maryn.  On top of that, his backpack was still full.  In spite of opening it numerous times today and adding more stuff to it, he somehow overlooked the three big bags of stuff that I had reminded him three times to give to his teacher.  SIGH.  When John finally got Brady to call me, he was grumpy and asked why he always had to tell me about his day.  After trying to grab his interest by asking specific questions about school, I learned that he had gym and that the playground was too crowded.  He didn't eat his fruit at lunch because I didn't pack him a spoon.  ARGHHH!

I don't know why I expect it to be different.  I know that he gets cranky when he is tired and hungry (like me) and that he needs a little down time after a busy day at school.  The things he remembers are a detailed listing of who was on what color (the behavioral warning system), but not one bit of the new knowledge he picked up. I forget, too, that after the exciting build up of the first day, there comes a let down that night when we are all exhausted, yet realize we have to be up early again tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow to repeat the same process over and over and over again.

I found myself grumpy, achy, and tired even after a run tonight, so after putting the kids in bed (twice), I decided to soak away the negativity in a bubble bath with a new magazine.  I had just gotten comfortable when I heard my name being called, then yelled repeatedly from upstairs.  A few minutes later, I heard the feet on the steps and then two heads peeked around the bathroom door.  "What are you doing, Mommy?", Brady asked, as Maryn described to me a minuscule boo boo on her foot.  Then they complained that they never got "high baths" like me.  I sent them off back to bed, and they both kissed me sweetly before saying goodnight and heading back upstairs.

It's all worth it in the end.

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