I can't remember the last time my house was so quiet.
School started today and while we've been doing this back to school thing for the past six Septembers, this is the first time that I have come home from drop-off alone. All four of my kids are in school this year and it's kind of lonely, as in weeping in the car lonely.
I know it'll get better and I know that I won't be bored, I start working part time as their school's art teacher next week but for now, today, I'm kind of sad. Not bad sad at all, just bittersweet sad.
I didn't have any little chatterboxes with me in Target this morning and I didn't have anyone begging for chocolate at the checkout line in the supermarket. What I did have though, was time. Because, man, I am so much faster in Target when I'm alone - I just didn't know it was possible to be in and out in ten minutes and still get everything I need. If we're ever in and out of somewhere in ten minutes it's most likely because we were not behaving and so we left a full shopping cart in the middle of the store and came home to take a nap.
Anyway, while I was in Target, I picked up a few things to make a (very) small first-day-of-school dinner party.
We now have balloons hung in the kitchen, a small wrapped toy on each bed and a plate of cookies on the table, along with a new book for each kid. I love new books. And the kids love meatballs, which is what we're having for dinner so win-win for everyone.
The whole party took 15 minutes to throw together (and that included wrapping toys) and now we have a new tradition for the first day of school for years to come.
Oh my goodness. Those two weeks between camp and school can just suck the life out of you.
But we survived. And the Two Lost Weeks have almost come to an end; school starts in the morning. The tears and nervous stomachs have already started, mine included.
We worked out the secret signals we're going to use in the morning when we say goodbye at school. We packed the lunchboxes, backpacks and extra secret little toy to keep in your pocket.
We even picked out our clothes for tomorrow. But something has been bothering me, almost like something is missing.
I have been scouring the Internet, or let's be honest and just call it what it is - Pinterest - trying to find a back-to-school tradition that spoke to me, one that I could use year after year without it getting old. Or requiring too much planning. Or baking. Not in the mood for baking. And I have not been able to find anything.
But then, about an hour ago, while I was sitting on the floor surrounded by three grades worth of school supplies, marking everything up with my trusty Sharpie, I realized that the solution to my problem was already in my hand. My Sharpie.
Tomorrow morning, the first day of school, I would write a secret message on each of my children's palms. And that way, if they needed me during that very long first day of school, I'd be right
there, in their hands. And truth be told, because I was planning on using a Sharpie, my message would most likely be on their hands for days to come.
I'm psyched. I'm ready. And I even have my message figured out. MLA for my anxious second grader.
MLY for my nervous first grader and MLT for my I-can't-sleep-I'm-so-excited-I-can't-wait-for-kindergarten Kindergartener.
The M stands for mommy, the L stands for Love and the last letter is each child's intial. I feel like this is subtle enough for my big boys who are too cool for kisses in school and fun enough for my younger ones who just want to be in on the action.
I think I may just need to write a message on my own hand to get me through the the first-day-of-school worrying at home.
My three year old came home from nursery the other day, all upset, because
it was her turn to be the weather helper, or as she said it, the weathergirl -
yup, that's the word she used, and as luck would have
it, she was wearing a short little skirt and fitted t-shirt that day -
and she didn't know which weather system to pick - hot, cold, cloudy, sunny. She
was all confused.
Today was like that again. Cold, cloudy, sunny, hot. I call it Mr. Roger's
weather. You start the day in a sweater and maybe even a coat, and most likely,
if you are just driving through the drop-off line in the morning, with your
pajama pants still on. Then the day goes on and you exchange your sweater for
something lighter, a cardigan perhaps. And by the time you've run all your
errands and made dinner and you're back in the pick-up line at school, you're so
hot that you've totally unzipped the cotton hoodie that you exchanged for the
cardigan hours ago and pushed the sleeves up as far as they can go and cranked
up the air conditioner. Except that it takes a while for the a/c to kick in
because you've forgotten that knobs are all turned to the heat setting, courtesy
of the winter weather that blew through town in the morning. You see? Just like
Mr. Roger's, with the constantly changing clothes and shoes every time you come
in or leave the house.
I don't like this weather. But the weather isn't the thing that I liked
least about today. It's spelling tests, of the first grade variety. I didn't use
spelling tests as my "thumbs down" during bedtime because that would not have
been constructive parenting, and I would never tell any of my kids this, but I
don't like spelling tests, and more than not liking spelling tests, I don't like
studying for them. And yet, this afternoon, I learned that spelling tests will
now be a part of our Friday lives for the foreseeable future.
It's not that I don't like words. I love words. I love manipulating them,
using a weird phrase, getting paid to write them (hint. anyone out
there looking for me?). But something about writing them over and over
every night of the week, just to get ready for a test on Friday, never appealed
So when the spelling list came home today, I was less than enthused. But
then, while I was rocking the baby to sleep (yes, I know she's not a newborn, so
sue me), I had time to think about the spelling words and what to do about them,
and more importantly, what to do with them so that a very tired first
grader will be open to practicing them nightly, as part of his homework,
preferably without too much complaining.
This was the first thing I did:
I wrote all the words out on slips of paper, using my best preschool
teacher handwriting, and hung them on the back of the front door. Surely seeing
something over and over will help with retention. Right?
And then I had a few other thoughts that might help. I feel like some of
these might appeal to some kids, while other might be liked by other kids.
In no particular order:
1. Use Scrabble tiles to spell out the words
2. Type the words on the computer
3. Use a cookie sheet and some ABC magnets and spell away. Or even sit in
front of a radiator or fridge and do the same.
4. Play hangman with the spelling words
5. Make a word search for your child
Will any of these ideas work? I have no idea. Have I implemented any of
them? Nope. They're just thoughts at this point, but these have to be better
than the memories I have of folding my sheet of looseleaf paper in thirds and
writing each word over and over until I couldn't straight.
Let me know if you use any of these and if they worked. I'll do the same.
If you've liked what you read, leave a comment please!
I don't want to judge or anything, and I know, in my heart of hearts that
boys will be boys but this just blew me away, and made me vaguely nauseous.
I was going through my five year old's backpack after school the other day
and made the mistake of reaching into the side pocket. It just looked so full
and I couldn't imagine what he had in there. And this is what I pulled out:
It's not that easy to see, so I'll just tell you. A dirty tissue (normal),
a dollar (normal, but where'd he get it?), a nasty old bag of mashed m&m's
(weird, but still, I don't like to waste perfectly good chocolate either) and -
wait for it - a bar of Dial soap. And I will tell you - even in the face of
sharing too much information - Josh uses Irish Spring soap. So where this bar of
soap came from is a mystery, and one that I am not entirely sure I want to
solve. (Hey, wait, Ma, do you guys use Dial? Please tell me you do. Please.)
I asked the boy where all this stuff came from. He had answers for
everything except the soap. Said he didn't remember where he got it but he did
say that sometimes school smells funny and the soap makes his backpack smell
nice. Brilliant answer. Brilliant boy. (And why does school smell funny?!)
So I let him keep it. It makes him happy, and if he's happy, I'm happy.
I also believe these weird hoarding things (and they are weird) are
hereditary - unfortunately for blaming purposes - from both sides of the family.
Years ago, when I was in Israel, one of my aunt's little boys came home
from school with olive pits and toenails in his pocket. (Did you just throw up
in your mouth a little? Cause I did.) And please don't ask whose toenails they
were, my aunt didn't.
But wait, there's more! I have heard this story countless times but since I
did not know Josh when he was little, I have no way to verify the truth of it,
but apparently, as a little boy, Josh would carry chicken bones, left from
dinner, in his pocket. Gross, yes. But not as bad as toenails. If one of my kids
came home carrying something like that, I would throw the pants straight into
the garbage. Right?
Wow, it's been almost two weeks since I've blogged. Woops. I didn't think
it had been that long. The past few weeks have been nutty with the kids home
from camp, trying to entertain them everyday and running around looking for
school supplies. Specifically Ticonderoga pencils. Why, oh why (oh why?) do they
need specific pencils? And so many boxes of tissues? And so many many folders?
Three kids, twelve folders. I don't get it. Actually, not true, I did get it. I got
it all. I just checking everything off all three school supply lists (go me!).
Everything has been labeled with a black Sharpie and packed into their
backpacks. And it only took as long as watching two epidsodes of Seinfelds to get
it all together.
And guess what else I got together? I got the Back-to-School-Fairy stuff
together. Back-to-School-Fairy? Yeah, so since we kind of missed out on the Tooth Fairy
when we lost our first tooth a few weeks ago, my
kids have been talking about it ever since. And then I came across the idea
of the Back-to-School-Fairy, a lovely idea floating around the web, where a
small back-to-school present is delivered to each kid's backpack, along
with their school supplies.
I'd been thinking about the whole back-to-school gift idea for a few weeks
and had meant to pick something up this week but ironically enough, the kids
were always with me because there. was. no. school
. I was kind up sad
that I didn't have anything for them, but I looked through my gift closet and
pulled out these very cute, very on sale, magnifying glasses I had bought in the
beginning of the summer and then promptly forgot about.
Using the same trusty Sharpie I had just used to label everything*
for school, I wrote each kid's name on their magnifying glasses (not 'cause
they're for school, more just to avoid fights) and dropped them into their
All I have to do is line up their backpacks by the front door so they can
check them out in the morning and be happy.
36 hours till school starts. Let the games begin.
*Almost everything. I don't label their underwear that goes into their extra-set-of-clothes-shoeboxes. I mean, really, if you lose your undies in school, do you really want someone to find them and know they're yours? Exactly.