Yesterday was my very first day driving my three girls, to three separate schools. One is in preschool, one elementary, and the eldest, attended her first day of middle school. As most parents know, the parking lots at the schools are very limited in parking space and can become quite congested. I arrived 10 minutes early for our first destination, yet I didn’t find a parking spot nearby. We parked about a block away, put our hoods on, and walked towards the school. The air smelled crisp, the rain drizzled on our hoods, and the wet leaves scattered on the sidewalk, signified the arrival of Fall, and at last, the arrival of the new school year!
Walking at a speedy pace with one hand holding my preschoolers and the other hand holding my middle daughters, we rushed through the traffic in the hallways to get to Nyomis classroom. Before we got to her classroom doors, I asked if I could snap a photo of her. She was reluctant. I could sense that I might be embarrassing her. I still wanted to capture a photo of her first day back, so I asked her if we went to an area with fewer people if I could get a photo. She agreed, but I could tell by her tone, that she really wanted me to hurry up and get it over with. After the photo, I gave her a giant squeeze, told her I love her and then watched her sit down beside a familiar face on the carpet.
This was Nyomi’s first day of school, without her big sister Jada. As Charley and I walked away, I started to worry that the girls may lose stuff in common to talk about. I worried if Nyomi was hurt, scared, or being picked on, that she no longer would have her big sister for protection. It made me sad to think about. But, the girls seemed fine. I was more worried about it then they were. In fact, when I asked them one day if they would miss one another, they both replied with a big fat “No!”, and a face of disgust. What can I say, except, that’s true love! I began to turn my doubt and worries off. Perhaps, they will have more to talk about now that they are in separate schools, is what I told myself. I guess I’ll have to wait and see.
My next taxi driving destination was Charley’s preschool. Nyomi needed to be dropped off at 8:50am and Charley 9:00am, this left me very little time. Charley and I walked back to the car. When we arrived in the chaotic parking lot at her preschool, I lucked out and drove right into an empty spot. I unbuckled Charley, helped her put her backpack on and held her hand as we walked across the parking lot towards her classroom door. As we entered the classroom it was a bit chaotic. Parents were scrambling to put their children’s indoor shoes on, some children were having separation anxiety, and holding onto their parents while crying. The teachers were doing there best to greet all of the children, and Charley, well let’s just say she likes to make her presence known. Before I could get her outside shoes off, she walked right up to her teacher, and said, “Hi, it’s me, Charley” Because the classroom was chaotic, the teacher didn’t hear her. Charley tried again, this time her tone louder and a bit impatient, ” Teacher, it’s me, it’s Charley!!” Charley’s second attempt worked and the teacher got down to Charley’s level ( a big brownie point in my books for that!) She greeted Charley with much enthusiasm and animation in her voice. I could see that Charley was happy to be acknowledged and we walked towards her cubby. I helped her put her indoor shoes on, and asked her for a big hug and a kiss. She jumped into my arms. I kissed her many times on the cheek, told her that I love her and that I would see her soon. Before I left, I took out my phone and snapped a photo of her(of course)! I left feeling confident because Charley is independent and outspoken. She was eager to start school and be like her big sisters.
I got into my car and drove back to Nyomis elementary school. The first day was only a half an hour. I sat in my car for a bit and scrolled through my Instagram feed. My feed was full of happy parents, showcasing their lovely children and their happy smiles, on their first day back to school. The first thing Nyomi said to me when I picked her up was, “my butt hurt sitting on the carpet that whole time, so I sat on my jacket.” She had a nice, short first day back, and the only bother she seemed to have was that her butt hurt a little.
I returned home after the first two drop-offs to find Jada, my tween, in the bathroom straightening her hair. I honestly haven’t seen her straighten her hair in three months. I could see that her first impression on her first day was very important to her. Her first day of middle school was split into teams. Her team’s arrival was scheduled for 11:30, which is also the time I needed to pick up Charley. Jada got ready, while I did some housework. When it was Jadas time to leave, she checked herself out in the full-length mirror a few more times. I insisted on a jacket because of the drizzle outside, and she insisted that her jacket wouldn’t look good with the outfit. I suggested another jacket and she agreed. Thank god, I didn’t want to have a power struggle with her on her first day.
On the short ride to Jada’s school, I heard her take a few deep breaths. She was worried because she didn’t know anyone on the team she was placed on. A team is like a homeroom in high school. When we pulled into the parking lot, once again, I couldn’t find a spot. I asked her if she wanted me to come inside with her and she said she would be fine. I asked again just to make sure and again, she said she would be o.k. I sat in the car and watched as she nervously walked into a sea of unfamiliar faces. I could have sat there forever, just to make sure she was ok, but I had another child to pick up. As I drove away, I began to tear up and then I began to cry like a baby. This wasn’t the first time that I’ve cried when Jada started school. I vividly remember her first day of kindergarten, she waved at me with her giant Dora backpack on, I waved back as she walked into her class and then I walked away and bawled. When she started kindergarten, I cried because time went by sooo fast. I cried because my first baby hit a milestone. I cried because I would miss spending every day with her. The tears I was having now, however, were different. I cried because I wanted to hold her hand with her and walk her through those school doors. I wanted to protect her, and help her find familiar faces. I wanted to take all of her insecurities and worry about making new friends, the older kids, and everything unfamiliar on her first day away from her. I kept picturing her walk into the crowd, her backpack facing me, while I wiped away my tears.
I had a few minutes to get myself together before picking up Charley. I wiped my tears as I parked the car. Charley was very happy to see me and ran into my arms. I gave her a gigantic hug and looked her in the eyes. She wiped my new side bangs away from my left eye before she began to tell me about her day. She babbled about so many things, I could barely understand. Then she said, “I’m hungry, can I get a cookie at subway?” Kids say the darndest things!
Our last stop was going back to pick up Jada. When she got into the car, she was smiling. She had a bunch of consent forms in her hand, including a band one. She told me that when the teacher asked if anyone wanted a sign-up form for the school band, no one stood up. Then she said, when she stood up to get one, a bunch of kids followed. As soon as she told me this, my heart knew that she was going to be just fine.
Yesterday marked a first for all of us. My first time driving three children to three separate schools. Nyomi’s first time at school without her big sister. Jada’s first day of middle school and Charley’s first day, going off to school just like her big sisters.
Today, marked my first day having some time all to myself.
As a result, you get to read this post!
I hope you and yours had a great first day back to school too!