Before You Know It

You’ll have to indulge me a bit as last year I didn’t have an easy way to share our back-to-school revelry.  Today is Eleanor’s 2nd first day of school.

This was her 1st first day of school:

And after a couple of dress-rehearsal days, tomorrow Oliver will be headed off to the classroom. Gulp and double gulp.

Oliver visited his school last week and I had to physically remove him from the vehicular cornucopia in the classroom.  Good sign #1.  I wish his teachers Godspeed when they encounter his first dirty diaper, but the opportunity for him to step out from behind Eleanor’s dictatorship will be great for him.

Eleanor, on the other hand, is smack dab in the middle of a make-believe epiphany.  She spent last week ‘going to the beach’ (complete with a change of clothes into her bathing suit) and this week, we’re all Alice, all the time.  On a scooter. With Mickey ears.  (There was also an interesting moment at the diner Saturday morning, when she lifted up her shirt in order to ‘pump’ for her baby doll… she was using a fork, but that seemed like an insignificant detail at the time.)

So for her, school will offer like minded co-imagineers with whom she can pretend and cavort.  (Oliver’s more of a mimic so doesn’t add as much as he participates in the make-believe and Mark and I could never have the energy required to keep up with her endless thought stream).

When we dropped Eleanor at her school for the first time last fall, I figured Mark would be the weepy parent.  I was right, but I wasn’t too far behind (no tears, but a big ol’ lump in the throat).  It sneaks up on you, but these early days of school can churn up some emotion.  For one, watching your previously “little” child walking off by themselves into the classroom flips an immediate switch to a “big” kid- autonomous and suddenly very grown up.  Or at least more grown up than they were at breakfast with yogurt on their forehead and sippy cup in hand.

Her favorite activity at school last year was rearranging the magnets on the refrigerator.

And then there’s the parental fast forward button.  How can you not watch the first days of preschool and imagine other firsts?  First grade. First sleep over. First crush.  First driver’s license.  But also the not-so-nice firsts… first hurt feelings, first pimple, first heartbreak, first failure.

It’s not for the faint of heart, the parental fast forward.  We reassure ourselves by thinking if today felt like an eternity with the toy grabbing and the desperate clutching trips to the potty (her not me) and the spilled plate of peas then all of these imagined ‘firsts’ won’t be here for ages.

Then you look at this:


And this:

And this:


That happened moments ago, right? So how can she be 3?  And he’s almost 2.  And the baby…… well that smiling grin of hers now comes with two new teeth.

Which brings me back to where I started… with “pack-backs” at the ready and lunch boxes in hand, 2/3 of my kids will trot down the street for their first days of school this week, and I will be madly searching for my parental pause button.




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