It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Where did the summer go? It seems that school was released last week! Where did all of the lazy days by the pool go? Why is it still dark outside when I’m getting up? When did we get back from vacation? How do I work my alarm clock?

That’s right. School starts today and all of the kiddos are going back.

Kids are complaining and mumbling about how life sucks, and how tired they are, and that the first day of school just happens to be the worst day of the WHOLE YEAR.

The obnoxious buzzing of the alarm goes off at 6:45 a.m. It’s the butt-crack of dawn and time to get my step-son up for the first day of school.

I shuffle into the bathroom and turn on the light. Good grief. I feel like a Gremlin. Bright light! Bright light! It’s so bright that it actually hurts. I take a horrifying glance at my reflection in the mirror. I look like I’ve been electrocuted. I really don’t like early mornings.

I have to force myself up the stairs to his room, knock on the door and turn on the light. Now he feels like a Gremlin.

He growls at me.

I sleep-walk into the kitchen and make a quick breakfast for him even though he says he doesn’t want much to eat. I pack a brown-bag lunch full of fruit, cheese, chips, yogurt, and a chocolate bar (I’m not a health food nut – he just has food allergies) and put it by his book bag.

Last night, I made sure new gym clothes were tucked away in his backpack. What seems like ten-thousand dollars-worth of school supplies have been placed in bags to be taken straight to the teacher’s desk. We almost needed to take out a small equity loan to cover the cost of all the supplies the school required this year. How he is going to carry all of this mess is beyond me.

His school uniform has already been washed and pressed. Socks and brand new shoes are placed by the bedroom door.

I confirm that his teeth are brushed, his shirt is tucked in, and his hair doesn’t show any signs of bedhead.

We jump in the car and head over to the school. It seems that every person in the city is in the car rider line today. Hopefully I won’t get in a wreck because I literally just pulled on a pair of shorts and tucked my night shirt into them. It’s going to be A-W-K-W-A-R-D if someone sees me.

He gets out of the car, tells me “bye,” and heads into the building.

Yep.

School started today, and for me and 99% of other parents out there, it’s THE BEST DAY EVER.

And since I’ve been done with school for years now, you know what that also means?

I get to go back to bed!

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It’s Okay To Play Hooky With Your Kids

There are some days that life just catches up to me and I just want to take a day off. I don’t want to turn on my computer. I don’t want to see what e-mails have come in. I don’t want to check Twitter or Facebook. I just want to veg out.

And then something wonderful happens. My sweet husband will say, “Hey – let’s go out to dinner tonight – just you and me.” And my day doesn’t seem so hard. Something as simple as that can really just make you happy.

I remember when I was in first grade. I was sitting in Miss Lapin’s class when the school secretary called my name over the intercom to come to the office. I was a good girl! I didn’t talk during class! Why was I being called up to the office??

With my heart beating a mile a minute, I rounded the corner to see my mother smiling at me.

“Am I in trouble?” I said.

“Nope! I have a surprise for you”, my mother said, leading me out of the school.

Thirty-eight years later I can still remember it as if it were yesterday. We drove into Downtown Atlanta to the Fox Theater… (If you’ve never seen the Fox Theater, google it!!!)…to WATCH A MOVIE! During school hours! This was awesome! I looked at my mother. She was grinning at me. My heart burst. I was so excited! This was by far one of the most fun days of my young life.

Me, not too thrilled about going to school

Many years later, I showed up at Matthew’s school to do the same thing. He is a hockey player, and the movie with Kurt Russell about the 1980 Olympic Hockey team that beat the Russian team had just come out. He was dying to see it and said so every time the trailer would come on TV.

I went to the front office and told the office staff that I needed to check him out of school for “an appointment”. Thank goodness they didn’t ask me what for.

As we got to the car he finally asked me what we were doing. I told him to wait and see. We drove to the local mall and he looked at me like I was crazy.

“Shopping? Please, no.” he said.

But when we got to the line to buy movie tickets, things began to fall into place.

“Are we going to watch ‘Miracle’????” he asked, the pitch in his voice raising with each word.

“Yep!” I said.

The grin on his face is one that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Recently, my husband did the same with my step-son, Austin. They went to a midnight release for a video game that he had been saving up for. As Austin was getting ready for bed, Dale said “Hey, get dressed – we have to go somewhere.”

Austin looked confused but did as he was told. As they pulled into the BestBuy parking lot, it began to register that they were there for the game release. Dale said that Austin had that look that I had described to him that Matthew had when I took him to the movie.

Playing hooky from work or school isn’t something to make a big habit of. My mom only did it once with me, and I only did it once with Matthew. It was so special that I wouldn’t want to ruin those memories by doing it over and over.

I realized at that moment that we don’t need to buy our kids expensive gifts or take them to exotic places for them to be happy. It’s really just the little things that they will remember the most.

Matthew recently mentioned that day we played hooky from work and school just to spend the day together, doing something that he really wanted to do.

And I hope he does the same thing with his kids one day, and those “hooky day” memories will continue on for the next generation.

He’s Not Homesick But His Mom Is

It’s been a month since my son, Matthew left for college.  I had promised myself that I wouldn’t be a basket case and would not need a prescription for Xanax or several bottles of wine, although I purchased a few just in case.   All summer I knew this day was coming but boy, it sure showed up faster than I expected.

He drove down with his dad to the school the night before he was to move in, and I drove down the next morning with my parents so that they could finally see the campus.  We got to his new dorm early and started moving his things in.  I tried keeping myself busy by making his bed and unpacking his dishes and glasses.  After about an hour, he gently touched my arm and said “Hey mom, I think I can handle it from here.”   I forced myself to smile and suggested we go eat lunch instead.

Moving In The Dorm

After small talk over lunch my parents and I realized it was time to head on out.  I am actually proud of myself not turning into a blubbering mess when we were leaving and not squeezing the life out of him when I gave him the biggest hug of his life.  He sweetly kissed my cheek and said “I’ll be fine mom.  I promise I’ll text you.  I love you.”

I held it together until I got in the car and then I just boo-hooed all the way back to Atlanta.  I cried to the point where I had massive amounts of snot and I was running out of tissues and I was sucking in short, rapid breaths like toddlers do when they have a meltdown.  But I made it.

Matthew & Mom

So day one came and went and I didn’t hear from him.

Day two came along and I finally heard the familiar country song that plays as his ring tone coming from the bottom of my purse.  I dropped everything and dug down into the black abyss that is my purse, searching for my phone.

“Hey Mom!  I have the funniest story to tell you…” and he went on to tell me about his first night on campus.   We talked for a while and then he said he’d call me later in the week.  My heart filled as he hung up with  “love you Mom”.

Day two came along and once again I heard country music coming from inside of my purse.  “Hey Mom!  Can you tell me how to set up my printer?”

Day three…”Hey Mom!  Rush starts next week.  What do you think I should wear?”

And so it goes.  He is now one month into his college life and I have heard from him just about every single day.  Every time I hear the first few notes of that country music song my heart double beats.

And even though I don’t get to see him every day like I used to, in a weird way I am getting more quality time with him with each phone call.  We are actually talking, not just saying hello like we used to when he’d come home and go straight upstairs.  He tells me about his day – new friends he’s made, funny things that have happened, and we just talk in general.  And I’m really happy with our new, mature communication even though I know the phone calls and text messages will slow down as he becomes more and more comfortable with living on his own.

The house is quiet without him and I’m the one who ended up homesick, but I am proud to say that I didn’t need all of those bottles of wine after all.