September 24th, 2013 by

Back to School By The Numbers

Well, the school year got back into full swing at the end of August, and while I was sad to say “good-bye” to time with the kids, I was also more than ready to say “hello” to routine…and freedom.

School started for Hayden on a Monday and the rest of the kids followed suit on Wednesday.  Unlike years past when the first day consisted of a brief 4 hours of class time, this year they instituted a full day right out of the gate.  I told myself that I would take a break from thinking/working/chores/projects, etc. during the first half week, but once Labor Day was over I would dive into all of the projects and activities that had laid fallow all summer long.  Buuuuut…as we all know, the best laid plans don’t always go accordingly.

Let’s start with the good stuff:

Hayden’s first day:

Hayden has grown about 50 feet over the summer.  No joke.  He’s now taller than me by more than a margin which I don’t particularly care for.  It’s hard to exert influence when you have to look up at your kid.  Hayden actually seemed pleased about returning to school, but obviously going back as a sophomore is much better than starting as a freshman.  He started Driver’s Ed. (ack!!) right at the end of summer, but due to a late birthday he won’t have his license until this time next year.  Fine by me…that leaves him more time to practice negotiating the mean streets of our suburb (as well as our horrible, mercurial, Midwestern weather).  If you are wondering how I managed to capture such a decent picture of Hayden, I had the good fortune of being able to show him the “first day” photo that one of his friend’s mom had posted on Facebook minutes earlier.  In it he had a panicked, “Mom, the bus is here I have GOOOO!” look on his face.  The threat of having a similarly embarrassing photo posted was all the encouragement Hayden needed.

Weston and Eliza are in middle school together this year.  Weston is in 8th, Eliza in 6th.  Although Eliza seemed nervous about middle school at the end of 5th grade, when the actual first day arrived, she was up and ready with the same enthusiasm of a kid headed to a theme park.  Since Eliza is gregarious, social and a master of social media, her transition to middle school has been seamless.  Fingers crossed that it stays that way.  Weston’s return to school had the same resigned feel of a middle-class, clock-punching Joe checking into yet another day at the office.  Although he’s not exactly a morning person, he’s actually settled in quite well, and between you and me, he actually likes school, despite what his attitude might imply.  The socks with the sandals seemed like a bold first day choice, but apparently dressing like the patron of a Floridian nursing home is all the rage with the kids these days so…

This guy is flying solo at the elementary school this year.  Kellan is an official first grader!  I was a little nervous about sending him on the bus alone and worried that he’d have a hard time adjusting to a full school day, but so far he seems quite acclimated.  His new teacher has a red/yellow/green behavioral system but Kellan operates in black and white, so when he got his first yellow card, the teacher had to call me and ask me to reassure him that the death penalty was NOT attached to this warning.  Apparently he was a little panicked.  I am missing having him around.  Last year I had two mornings a week where he and I had time together while Larissa was in preschool and I really cherished that one-on-one time because Kellan is such a fun kid to be around.  It’s a little sad to realize that he now belongs a little more to “the system” and a little less to me.

Last, but not least, Larissa.  She moved up to the “seniors” room at preschool now that she is four.  Although I could have put her in school for 3 days or more, I opted to keep her at 2 days, mostly because I can’t stand the thought of not having a “baby” around anymore.  Our district went to optional full day kindergarten this year and I suspect it will become mandatory next year, so while other parents are celebrating, I’m already mourning the prospect of losing her entirely without that half-day transition.  She was more than ready to be back in school with kids her own age.  As the youngest child she bears the brunt of her siblings’ slings and arrows.  As an average 4-year-old she runs on high-octane, much to their chagrin.  They find her constant talking “annoying”, critique her radio sing-alongs as “inaccurate”, roll their eyes at her games of pretend and find her kind of pesty.  I try to gently remind them that they were ALL the same way at four and that I managed to refrain from constantly chastising them for acting their age, but they remain unmoved.  I actually thought Larissa would miss her siblings once the house emptied out, but she loves it!  In fact, the minute brothers and sisters start returning home from school she immediately strong-arms them while shouting, “I’m having ALONE TIME.”

Now…from the photos and recaps, all would seem to be in accord.  I should be enjoying some personal time, relishing the freedom of errands with only one child in tow, and recovering from my summer job as chauffeur and social director.  WRONG.  Here’s where the numbers factor in…

Days in school: 7
Number of cases of diagnosed strep throat: 2
Number of antibiotics prescribed (including preventatives): 4
Number of days missed from school due to aforementioned strep: 4 (between 2 kids)
Number of bus route changes: 2
Number of buses missed due to aforementioned changes: 3
Number of panicked calls to the bus company because the bus home is late by over 20 minutes: 2
Number of forms filled out: 20
Number of fundraisers already received: 2
Number of requests for additional supplies and/or money from the school: 4
Number of calls from school nurses: 2
Number of doctor visits resulting from aforementioned phone calls: 2
Number of school related injuries: 1
Number of issues related to kids being mean to one of my kids on the bus: 1
Number of calls to the school made in order to resolve aforementioned issues: 3
Number of return calls from principal: 1
Number of times I have sighed deeply and/or cursed my lot in life: innumerable

All in SEVEN DAYS!!!  I’m hoping that this early run of discord is just an aberration.  If this keeps up, I might just pull everyone out of the district and homeschool….and by “homeschool” I mean sit around and watch TV all day.

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