I abandoned my child. Seriously, I did. I walked him to his classroom, told him good luck, and ran away cackling while he frantically called out after me, his teacher’s claws digging into his shoulder as she dragged him inside the class.
At least that’s what it felt like.
Truth is, we were running late this morning. I know, I know. I wrote that whole long list of things to do to ensure that mornings go smoothly. And we followed those things – mostly. But the kids decided that they really wanted BLTs for lunch today. And rather than say no because I do not have time to guard the stove for 20 minutes, I caved and fried up some bacon. After all, it’s the first day of school, the kids should have their favorite lunch. Thing is, that gave me precisely 20 minutes to choke down my breakfast and get ready for work. I managed, somehow, and ushered the kids out the door so I could snap some First Day of School photos of my son (DQ started yesterday). Then we all headed to the car. And that’s when I realized that I forgot my phone. I tossed the kids my car keys so they could unlock the car, and ran back to the house. And true to the tone for the day, my phone was nowhere to be found….and on vibrate. I called my phone 5 times, hearing a distinctive rumbling somewhere in the house. I tore my bed apart, searched in the “clothes husband” I pushed out of bed the night before, and ran upstairs and downstairs over and over again (I think I impressed my cat with my agility in the process). I finally found it on top of the TV after 10 minutes of searching. I grabbed it and raced out the door.
Good news is that leaving at 7:20 gives both my kids plenty of time at their schools to drop their bags in their locker or at their classroom, and be able to hang out with their friends before the bell rings. Bad news is we were leaving at 7:37. We had 20 minutes to get all the way across town to my daughter’s school, and then 15 more to get back to my side of town to drop my son off.
No worries. I knew I could do it. And I told the kids this repeatedly as they lamented they were late thanks to my phone escapade. And I drove the speed limit as fast as I could to ensure that I would make it. Of course, everyone else on the road was doing the same exact thing – all 50,000 of them clogging up the freeways and every single road imaginable. And let me tell you, there are some crazy drivers out there.
Note from WC Mom: I’m going to take a second here and rant about crazy drivers in school zones. It scares me to death when I see cars whipping around other cars in school areas as they try and get their kids to school on time. There are numerous crosswalks with kids crossing – and NO crossing guards to protect them. There are kids crossing outside of crosswalks (which they shouldn’t, but it happens). When a car is speeding through the school zone, they are liable to hit one of these kids. It could be YOUR kid in the path of a fast approaching car. Is your child’s promptness more important than a child’s life? Leave the house a few minutes early to avoid the rush. Or if you are running late, like me, just accept that your child is late. The school will not blow up if your child doesn’t arrive on time. This is not going on their college transcripts. And if your child has to suffer consequences because of tardiness, so be it. It’s all a part of the learning process. That’s life. But please, PLEASE, slow down in the school zone. Thank you, end rant.
At any rate, we made it to my daughter’s school 5 minutes before the bell rang. And then we weeded through traffic again to get back on the freeway towards my son’s school. And as we stopped and go’ed, my son piped up in the backseat.
“I have to go to the bathroom.”
He squirmed in the backseat, letting me know that this was not just a casual remark, but an emergency backdoor nervous kind of situation. And being that we were on a mission and there was nowhere to stop, there was nothing I could do about it.
“Try not to think about it,” I said cheerfully. “We’ll be at school in no time.”
“What time is it?” my son asked.
“8 o’clock. We have 15 minutes.” He groaned in agony in the backseat.
“We’re late!” he said, clutching his nervous stomach.
“No we’re not. We’re exactly on time,” I said as I inwardly sighed noticing the traffic piling up towards our exit.
“Mom, I’m nervous,” the Taz admitted.
Today is not only his first day of school, it’s his first day at a new school. This last year as I got together the transfers so he could attend the school he’s gone to since kindergarten, he stopped me. He told me that he really wanted to go to the school right next to our house because that’s where all his neighborhood friends went. And after some research, I couldn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t. It hadn’t been a big deal way back then. But this past week, the Taz has been on pins and needles as the day came closer. And this morning, the nervous stomach was due to nerves about a new teacher, a class full of strangers, and a school yard that was completely foreign. And thanks to stories from his well-intentioned dimwitted friends, his head was also filled with thoughts that he was going to get beat up if anyone viewed him as the nerdy new kid.
“Everything’s going to be just fine,” I reassured him, pulling into a parking spot next to the school. “And your friends are lying to you.”
Truth is, I was nervous too. His old school was familiar to me. I knew the parents. I knew the teachers. Having gone to the school as a kid, I had even HAD some of the teachers. And the school was filled with kids who knew our family. Walking towards the classrooms, I knew no one. And we couldn’t even find his classroom. The two of us walked from hall to hall, finding every single class except his. A teacher directed us in the general direction, and still it remained out of view. We both turned in circles, feeling totally lost on this big campus.
And that’s when I saw her, a familiar face looking back at me. It was a girl I went to high school with dropping her kids off for their first day of school. And both of our faces lit up. It had been years since we had seen each other in person, but only a day since we’d seen each other on Facebook. I don’t even remember the last in depth conversation we had. But just her presence made everything so much better. We hugged as if we’d been hanging out every weekend. Just that little bit of familiarity lightened the knot that had been growing in the pit of my stomach. And I suddenly felt like everything was going to be ok. She gave us better directions to the classroom, and the Taz and I were on our way.
Unfortunately, the time crunch only gave me enough time to pat the Taz on the back and wish him luck. Class had already started, and he had to start his first day off as the new kid with all eyes on him as he found his seat. I wanted to remind him of all his responsibilities for after school. I wanted to ensure that he knew how to follow the rules in this new school. I wanted to hug him for a full 5 minutes and tell him how much I loved him, and how proud I was of him, that everything was going to be ok, that I knew he’d have a great day and make a lot of new friends. But hugging him would only make him the nerdy new kid who would get picked on by bullies. So I left it at a pat on the back. And I gave him a huge smile even as his eyes pleaded with me to not leave him there. And I walked away.
And I didn’t even tear up until I got close to my car.
But know what? Everything is going to be ok. He’s going to be just fine. Just like seeing my friend there, he will find some familiar faces in this unfamiliar school. And soon many more faces are going to seem familiar as well. And eventually this school will feel more at home than his old school does. And me? I’ll be fine too – as soon as the guilt of abandoning my kid goes away.