Despite everything, I love the first day of school and all its mayhem.
I love the photos, the tears and the smell of new clothes. I love kids toppling over from the weight of 10,000 glue sticks. I love teachers squaring their shoulders in preparation for the long year ahead. I love the little notes packed into lunches and the little smiles when long-lost friends reunite.
There is more pomp and circumstance surrounding the first day of school than ever before.
Some parents engage in it because they are truly creative and inspired. Some parents succumb to peer pressure and guilt.
Me? If I remember my phone, I may try to snap a quick picture. It will be blurry. Nobody is holding a sign. In ten years, I will be lucky to identify the correct child, let alone the correct year or grade.
But my friend Deb is one of those remarkable moms who enjoy crafting and creating magic for children. I have ridiculed her, rolled my eyes at her and even asked her to stop making the rest of us look bad. Thankfully, Deb knows I am kidding.
More or less.
Her back-to-school photo was done in advance. Deb learned from previous outings that herding three young kids out the door, well-coiffed and toting their weight in Kleenex boxes, is just not practical. So she took her time and got an approximate first day of school shot, give or take a few days. It made me laugh:
Photo Credit: Deb
Few folks from my generation possess a single photo of themselves marching off to school. The most magical moment for me came in 1979 when my sister said I could use her old Charlie’s Angels lunchbox.
Sometimes when I spot Deb’s latest creation or project, feelings of inadequacy creep into my psyche. It doesn’t matter that I avoid Michael’s and JoAnn Fabrics like the plague or that I can’t sew a button on a shirt. I think to myself:
Today is the day I shall make Minions from Twinkies.
Thankfully, Deb talks me down.
“You are that sports mom, Marianne. You maintain a schedule of twenty practices, ten games and five different uniforms over the course of a month. When folks are discussing the latest Chicago playoff team, you actually know what they are talking about. Me? I have PTSD from fifth grade dodgeball. I can’t catch my car keys when my husband throws them. I run for cover.”
Every mom has her strengths. Deb will create award-winning Halloween costumes and hand-dipped fruits this year. She has a unique eye for beauty.
I will forget when book fee day is and when the next field trip form is due. I have a head for flakiness.
But I can get you to any ice arena within a 100 mile radius. I also know where the best deals are on football cleats and baseball mitts. I will always carry an extra folding chair in the minivan for you and I believe strongly that all children, even those terrified of dodgeball, deserve the chance to play the game.
We are more alike than we are different.
Except I get way more free cookies, which means I totally win.