The clock crowed earlier than usual this morning, calling us all to the first day of school. We all gathered in the super six year old's room and played a little, read a book, helped the persevering preschooler into his clothes as his older brother once again put on his school uniform. I watched as he inspected the new uniform shirt I had placed in his tomorrow drawer and then discard it, determining it was too big for his tastes. After settling on one of last year's shirts we headed to the kitchen, where eggs were scrambled and pictures were snapped.
And it was a good morning. Our normal chaos, sure. Our normal loud, sure. But everyone got to where they needed to be, wearing what they needed to wear, having eaten something warm and healthy. Really, that is all I am looking for these days.
Part of the reason our morning went so well is that we reviewed our back to school plans last night, at our big Back to School Dinner Party. I told the boys about their party last weekend, so that we could let them choose the menu. Then I let them know that there would be party favors with candy. A few days later I mentioned decorations. By the time we arrived home last night, after stopping by the persevering preschooler's preschool open house, the boys were frantic. They raced into the dining room to see their party.
Each boy had their very own 'chalkboard" place mat with their new grade level printed in chalk. Books and a cup of pencils added a school feel to our table, and the mug also held the questions for our "back to school" Q & A. I made a simple "back to school" banner and hung it across the curtain rod.
We ate dinner and talked about the upcoming school year. We reminded our sweet boys that we want them to do the best they can, to always strive for the top. We also reminded the boys that doing the best they can does not always mean getting straight A's. That sometimes it means being nice to the bully. Sometimes it means inviting a shy child to share your lunch table. Sometimes it means not hitting back or giving up your turn. We reminded our boys that "fair" does not mean that everyone gets the same, that it truly means that everyone gets what they need, instead. We reviewed our family policy of listening to the teacher and doing what we are told, even if we don't agree with it. We reviewed how we express that disagreement. We reviewed the homework and behavior policies from the super six year old's school and signed the agreements. (As a side note, I love how everyone signs these agreements. My first grader signed his name, agreeing to complete homework and to follow the rules at school.)
We talked about how proud we are of both of our boys and how amazing this school year is going to be. New friends, new experiences. New books to read, new puzzles to solve, new ways to show our faith, our compassion, our brains and our abilities. And then we played our game.
At the last minute I had written down a bunch of back to school questions, such as "Am I allowed to stand up on the school bus?", and "Show me how you walk in the hallways". Other slips included "What would you do if another kid picks on you", and "Who is in charge of your classroom?". Surprising to all of us the super six year old ran upstairs to get paper and created a score sheet for each of us. He made everyone answer each question, assigning a score to our answers, tallying the numbers with each round. Even the persevering preschooler got into the game, climbing down from his chair to demonstrate how he walks in the hallways and how he sits on the bus. After we finished reading all the questions my oldest son asked for more. My sweet husband and I lingered at the dining room table with him, firing question after question until we ran out of school related thoughts.
We laughed. We used a game to prepare our son for his new school year. We celebrated and reminded our boys of their responsibilities. Of our hopes and dreams for them. We cemented a tradition and made lasting memories. We are ready to embark on another great school year.
This morning the persevering preschooler and I walked our newly minted first grader into his school. As we reached the Activity Center, where morning assembly is held, I stopped right outside the door, kneeling down to whisper in my son's ear. "I am so proud of you. There is nothing you can do to make me happier with you than I already am. Just go, make smart choices, be yourself, and have fun. I love you!" He smiled, hugged me, and I felt his hand slip from mine and he ran into the room. He ran up to a friend he was hoping he would see today, hugging him and giving high fives. He looked around, unsure of where to put his backpack or what line to run to when the whistle blew, which would be happening soon. I watched him walk up to his principal and ask her his question. She pointed to his line and he ran over to drop off his backpack. On the way he stopped, noticing another friend from last year who was crying, sobbing really, unwilling to let his mother walk away. My sweet boy detoured to his friend, walking up to him and giving him a hug. I heard him tell his friend that it was going to be OK before he ran off to say hello to someone else. I turned away, picking up my youngest son and hugging him tight. He is going to be OK, my oldest. More than OK, I think.