The last two out

Published 2:44 am Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The day has finally come, the one many mothers cry about and others cheer about. The first day of school. And in my case, the last of the nest is heading to kindergarten.

The first day of school is like mass chaos with confused parents, eager kiddies, crying kiddies, over stuffed backpacks, wild eyed teachers and traffic jams.

I have finally reached one of those milestones. The twins are in school, or as we call it Big Boy’s school and boy am I tired already.

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They call it back to school season. It begins the day they get out in June. The search for new uniforms begins because the old ones are worn, tired, and high watered. But don’t buy too many clothes because it is natural for children to grow two sizes immediately after the first week of school.

After a blink of an eye summer, the announcement of the first day comes out in the paper and the scramble begins for school supplies at least for some parents. I say every year that I will be one of those parents who prepare, gather, and with grace and style they show up for meet the teacher day with all the letters dotted and crossed. Not I say the unorganized mom, I like to wait til the search is a challenge to find paper this and vinyl that. How hard is it to find a zipper pouch? Still working on it.

I had moments of glory when I began buying uniforms in July. I did that right.

At the last moment, they got new underwear and socks because every mom knows you have to have new and fresh ones the first of the school year. Then by the end, especially for boys, they degenerate to too tight, not too white, and missing in action.

Just before the First Day of School or FDS caught me trying to work, register, prove residence, meet teachers and gather countless items for all my school age children. It was quite a chore. How many times have I signed my name? Filled out phone numbers, addresses, just in case stuff? I think I have carpal tunnel just for this school year.

Since the boys have been in preschool and daycare this past year that means no summer breaks, no spring breaks and rare days off, I felt compelled to give my twins a break between pre-school and kindergarten, so I took them out one week early. Can you imagine my surprise when I learned that Kindergarten begins a week later? Yikes! This meant two weeks scrambling for babysitting and working all my jobs while running after two five years old. Did I mention that I was tired?

So when the final day comes and kindergarten starts instead of rosy happy faces, I had one nonchalant and one not budging. One twin acted like a mixture of Eeyore and Grumpy Smurf.

At the FDS, parents were marching all manner of kids onto the campus from freaked out crying to exuberant joy and that was the disposition of the parents as well! Some parents had cameras capturing the moment forever while others just wanted to get it over with, too many drama queens.

As I think back to my first day of school, back in 69, I can recall that times were tough during that particular school year. Hurricane Camille had ravaged our community and PRC School on the 17th of August causing the opening day for school to be pushed back. I couldn’t tell you how long it was before we began, but I do remember those portable trailers and how hot it was.

In my day, air conditioners in schools was unheard of, so “if” it seems like the earth is warming up as many experts are saying; it could be because we are using too many air conditioners which not only eats up our ozone but causes a medical condition known as wimpy-itus. We can’t stand the heat, not anymore. We are use to comfort. The cure is to live without it. Yeah, right.

Growing up, we had no air at home or school. Yes there were days so hot my brain stayed in a fog and I am sure I could have been a genius but the heat prevented me from thinking more than necessary. At least that is what I tell my kids. It was a good day when you sat on the fan side of the classroom.

Just like Camille, Katrina has made for hard school beginnings. That is why I am so proud that our school officials, community leaders and local foundations and those across the country have made it a priority to help school age kids deal with the aftermath of the storm. The Safe Harbor program administered by outstanding school administrators, nurses, and volunteers show the best of our people in these hard times by providing kids of Katrina a place to go and have fun after school is out.

We had no such help back in my day. And although, I only suffered inconvenience, the storm that I went through and the aftermath was very intense and frightening. Life was simple back then and maybe we didn’t know any better to be post traumatic disordered, but I bet we were.

For some mothers back to school, or just ‘to school’ is a time of pure enjoyment, peace and tranquility in the home as she cleans and reads magazines, watches soaps or whatever her heart desires.

Now, for the real world, I get to go back to my four jobs but now I have the joy and privilege of waking up before dawn, waking all the men folks, feeding, preparing the clothes for the day and secretly praying I did laundry the night before (and the load is dry), dressing, digging for gold or what you might call lunch money, dragging whiny grumpy children away from Spongebob, and driving them without wrecking them to school. And the best part is, I get to do it again the next morning.

This is the joy of back to school. I arrive at work flustered, irritable, disheveled and with a smile on my face because my children are in school. Free at last, free at last, or at least until I have to go pick them up. Boy, I am tired.