2018-08-08 / Editorial

BACK-TO-SCHOOL AGAIN

Diana Royal

I remember my baby’s first day of big kid school very vividly.

She wore a maroon-colored dress adorned with tiny flowers that I’d found at Baby Gap, and her long, signature sun-kissed ginger hair was pushed back from her face with a matching headband. (Because when shopping at Baby Gap or Gap Kids, and later on down the road at Justice, it was a mama’s duty to always get the matching hair accessories!) Her toes, lacquered in a shiny polish matched nearly perfect to her ensemble, peeked from the brown leather sandals strapped to her feet. She carried her pink and white book bag on both shoulders and shooed her dog away when he got too close, calling him “silly puppy” and clearly fighting the urge to let him attack her with sloppy kisses. For nap time, we’d bought a new Ariel sleeping bag, but she opted for her Care Bear one instead, figuring that the Care Bear theme would help her own special, alwaysat her-side buddy, Ice Cream Bear, feel a little less nervous about school.

If she herself felt anxious about school that morning, she didn’t show it one bit. From the backseat she requested her usual song choices: “Me and Bobby McGee” by Janis Joplin and “Tiny Dancer” and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John. She bobbed her head to the beat, singing along while her hot pink, glittery Hello Kitty sunglasses sparkled in the morning sunlight.

We parked in a grassy lot, closer to the double doors that led to the hallway where the Pre-K classrooms were, and she fussed about the dew and the tiny black “seeds” that stuck to her feet and legs. She let me hold her hand as we entered the building but dropped it as soon as we hit the classroom, finding her cubby and directing me to put her nap time items in their place. I got a hug and a kiss before she shooed me away as she had her dog half an hour earlier, giving me “the look” I’d seen often in her short little life, with eyes that seemed to say, “I’ve got this Mama. I’m gonna be just fine.” And she was fine; she soared through that first day with flying colors as I knew she would. The only report I got, aside from her being well-mannered and a good listener, was that she had quacked in class. (No, that’s not a typo. She quacked. Like a duck. She’s always had a color- ful imagination.)

The years have passed quickly since that day, as I’m sure all mothers know all too well, the awareness often too real of a reminder that time does not stop, back up or even slow down for any of us.

Those first-day-of-school outfits have changed drastically, as have morning routines, taste in music, favorite subjects and best friends, and I know that with just two years of high school remaining, this coming year has a lot in store for us. Prom. Driving. Dual enrollment. Afterschool job. More and more independence. I also know there’ll still be hugs and kisses and late night conversations, laughing at YouTube videos and maneuvering the future, maybe not always physically side by side, but at least heart by heart.

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