and that was the first week of school

Ash locker first day.jpg

We made it through the first week and a couple days into the second week of the new school year. Of course, there was drama. There was drama because I have kids. And there was drama because one of those kids is a teenage girl. And she has teenage girlfriends. If I said nothing else, you would completely understand.

But I can’t leave it here. So I am going to start with the easy one.

Woke up last Wednesday morning, it felt like autumn. It was the cool and crisp weather, but it was also the first day of school. So with hoodies zipped, we began the 287-day journey to the 2019 summer break.

When I got to Monkey Boy’s school, the traffic slowed to a crawl in the drop-off line. Before I even had a chance to stop completely at the designated drop off spot, Monkey Boy was unbuckled and opening the door to hop out, “Have a great day doin’ whatever you’re gonna do, Momma! I love you.”

He bounded out of the car, and he ran toward the school and zig-zagged around the parents who actually parked their cars and walked their children to the front and watched them walk down the hallowed halls to their classrooms. Monkey boy bounced his way through the school’s front door and not once did he look back.

Then I drove out of the parking lot and started to cry a little. I consoled myself with the fact that I still have 10 years left with him.

The other one, the Girl, the one I only have 5 years left with—a fact that causes me to cry even more—left the house an hour earlier with B, who dropped her off in front of her school and then headed to the church office to get a jump start on his day. He pulled in somewhere around 7:30 am. It absolutely must be said I already miss our somewhat lazy summer mornings of sleeping to 7:30 or 8 am.

The Girl had such high expectations for her first day of school. She loves, loves, loves her schedule, despite the 7:30 am start time. She says school would be much better if school started, say around noon and went to about dinnertime. Even so, when I walked into her room this morning at sunrise, she was already sitting on her bed dressed.

“What do you think of my outfit?” She stood and twirled, confident with a broad smile.

I looked her up and down, smiled and nodded. She donned a pair of faded ripped black jeans—not bought from a store but from wear over the last two years. She threw on her new forest green anime T-shirt that has either wings or military stripes on the back—I couldn’t tell. On her feet, she wore a pair of yellow knee socks with little pizzas all over them. With those socks and jeans tucked in, she laced up her brand new urban, street-style black combat boots.

And I thought back to that day in preschool when she wore a black velvet jumper with little pink bows, her white button up blouse, pristine white knee socks, and black Mary Janes. Her long blond hair brushed straight and smooth and gently pulled to the side with a pink barrette.

Ten years later with a pile of unworthy first-day-of-school outfits crumbled at her feet, the Girl tossed her short, unbrushed blond hair and asked again, “Well, how do I look?”

“You look great.”  

Later that day, 10 minutes after the final bell, the Girl flopped into the front seat of the car in the school parking lot. I asked oh-so-enthusiastically, “So, how was your first day back at school?”

She dispiritedly replied, “It was okay.”

That was not the answer I expected, “Just okay?”

“There was drama.”

Oh. Drama.

Oh. Drama. Because middle school. Because middle school girls. And middle-school boys.

The Girl has a crush on really cute boy, Z. Z spent the better part of the last two months of the school year flirting with the Girl and winking at her during class and touching her hand across the lab table in science. And when the Girl would come home and tell me about her day, she could not suppress the smile on her face when she talked about Z. In fact, she giggled. A lot.

But then the Girl’s girlfriends, A and C, told the really cute boy, Z, that the Girl had a teeny-weeny, blush-inducing crush on him, and in doing so broke that most-sacred bond of girlfriend confidentiality. Except, A and C didn’t tell Z on the first day of school, they told him during the last couple weeks of school in May and kept it a secret from the Girl all summer long, even at the tell-all, end-of-summer slumber party. A and C decided to confess their sin simultaneously to the Girl on the first day of school, in front of Z and the rest of the students in jazz band. And just when the entire class had finished murmuring about it, A stirred it up again when she yelled across the room to Z, “Hey Z, do you remember what I told you?”

The Girl, powerless to hide her feelings, I’m sure, turned the most crimson shade of red, broke out in pimples, and was unable to speak for several minutes. Three hours later when she got in the car after school, she started weeping.

As she explained through a torrent of torrid tears, it wasn’t bad enough that now Z knew, the entire school knew and other kids began to ask her about it. To further complicate things, A was stymied as to why the Girl was upset. After all, A confessed in the most contrite, humble, and private way possible. And then A went on to feign tears, telling everyone how truly sorry she was. A said that it just wasn’t fair that the Girl was troubled at all over the situation because it wasn’t the Girl who was baring her soul in admission to the whole world.

With a heave and a stutter, the Girl said to me, “A can’t keep a secret, a secret that I didn’t even want to tell her to begin with. And now Z is gonna think I’m a creep. He’s never gonna speak to me again.”

Except on the second day of school, Z did speak to her. Z kept winking at her in band class when she was playing percussion and then again in jazz band, commenting on how pretty her bass guitar was. After jazz band, Z walked with the Girl and her pretty bass guitar all the way to her locker on the other side of the school because, as he said, “I don’t have anywhere else I need to be right now.” Then during the last class of the day, the Girl and Z have language arts together, and when their instructor told them to find a person to be their partner for projects and accountability throughout the school year, Z ran across the room to the Girl.

When the Girl hopped in the car that afternoon after school, I asked, “How was today?”

“It was great!”

And then the next day, not-quite-as-cute boy Y, kept telling the Girl that he was so in love with her bass guitar, “That’s a really cool bass.”

The Girl's a rock star. And that was her first week.

As for Monkey Boy’s first week, it was so different. He's in third grade and learning to match his t-shirts to his pants. And today, it sorta matched so I let it go.