First Day Angst

It’s the First Day back to school and I am feeling a bit scattered and nervous. The vicarious pressure of a new school year and its associated schedule, school supplies, homework, and activities is putting me at stress level Orange.

And I’m not even the student.

Of course, on the outside I have attempted to appear calm and organized. Yesterday I baked corn bread for the boys’ First Day breakfast (to be eaten with milk and sugar, as any proper downstate-Illinoisian should do); ensured that all alarm clocks had the correct hour and minute, were set on an early enough wake-up time, and that the alarm button was actually switched to ON; and reminded the boys (again) to (finally) get around to unpacking their backpacks from last year and stocking them with the new notebooks, pens, pencils, folders, etc. that I bought for them.

(Somehow I thought that the act of purchasing school supplies would put me – and, thus, maybe the boys – in a more organized frame of mind, jettisoning us out of summer mode and into takin’-care-of-business frames of mind.  It was a good idea, at least.)

Still, despite feeling like we have our feet stuck in a it’s-vacation-let’s-sleep-in-and-do-nothing time warp, this morning the boys and I did manage to get up with our respective alarms and get showered, dressed, breakfasted, and out the door in time.

And we didn’t forget a thing.

A miracle.

Not that there is much to remember on the First Day.

We even made it to school exactly on time, not arriving way too early – as is my wont – or too late – which is my nightmare.

This was not the case for one new mom whose 10th grade daughter was late for her First Day at her New School.

I repeat: 15-year-old daughter. Teenage girl. Hormonal by definition. Late. On her First Day New School (in a new country no less).

Oh, yes, I felt her angst. As did all of the moms who were gathered around, getting acquainted, and scaring each other with “First Day” stories. I sent up a silent thanks that today was not First Day New School but just First Day New Academic Year, the latter alone being quite sufficient in the ‘ol stress-production department.

As it is, First Day New School is still way too fresh in my memory.

Despite the fact that the boys (and, therefore, I) survived it surprisingly well.

And I would not repeat First Day New School (or First Week New School, for that matter) for all the tea in China.

(Honestly? If it’s not First Day of vacation, then it’s a First Day to get over with as quickly and as painlessly as possible. First Days are not fun. Not the First Day at a new school. Not the First Day at a new job. The strangeness. The unfamiliarity. The discomfort. The tentativeness. The ignorance of coffee maker location (a necessary and valuable ally), of toilet location (even more necessary), of classroom location, of copier protocol. Trying to remember new faces, new names, new schedules. Ugh ugh and triple ugh.)

No, we had our First Day last January and that will hold us for quite a while.

But my heart went out to this woman so much. And to all the other moms in the room whose friendly, tentative smiles were headlined by anxious eyes.  Because I, like any mom on Earth, know the Worry that accompanies any child-of-our-heart’s milestones, big or small. Including First Day New (or not new) School.

Which is why we moms, at the First Day Orientation Meeting, forcefully shove against our comfort zones, squash the desire to sit in a corner and hide behind our Styrofoam cup of coffee, and, instead, work the room, thrusting our hands at other parents, initiating introductions, hoping that somehow, at some point, making a show of being a normal, socially adequate, reasonably intelligent individual might somehow help grease the social wheels for our child.

(Oh. And also hoping beyond hope that in the chaos of First Day no one noticed us (me) with the wrong grade group of parents. A bit of helpful advice to other mom’s: Make sure, before you start introducing yourself to every Sally, Jane and Dyugu, that you do a mental check and realize that your child has moved up a year…by doing this, you will target the right class grade of parents to introduce yourself to before making an utter a—of yourself.)

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