Yes, today was that glorious of all summer days – the first day of school.
Instead of the normal everyday shooing of children out the door, I decided to be a good mom and walk the kids to school. We had only gone past two houses before C, my 5th grader, zoomed down the sidewalk on his scooter, leaving me and the girls to eat his dust. A, my 3rd grader, started whining at this point because I hadn’t let her ride her scooter, nor was I allowing her to push Baby K in the stroller. I figured trying to explain my reasoning on the scooter was pointless, because she’s a little raw bundle of emotion, but I tried anyway.
“If you ride your scooter, what will J ride? You’re supposed to walk home with her, but if you’re on your scooter, you’ll leave her behind. She’s too young to be by herself.” I didn’t think A would give a rip about her little sister the brand-new kindergartener, but she surprised me and let the matter drop.
By this time, we had passed the 4 houses between us and the corner, and it was time to turn and head uphill to school. It’s not a steep hill, but it’s a steady half-mile working against gravity. And A wanted to push the stroller. I should have foreseen this. I was eager to get to school to drop the kids off so I could get home and start the to-do list to which I’ve been adding items all summer long. They weren’t so eager. They wanted to go to school, but my enthusiasm, like my stride, was greater than theirs.
We made it to school in time for the 8:15 bell. School starts at 8:20. A starts freaking out, “We’re late! I’m late! What am I gonna do?” and J is still walking calmly beside me. For some reason, A doesn’t quicken her pace or walk around slower people in front of us. She’s still intent on pushing the stroller. Finally I got her full attention and dismissed her from her big sister duties, reminding her of the walking-home duties after school.
I turned to J. “Do you want me to come into your class with you?”
J, grinning, eyes twinkling, “No. I’m good.”
“Can I have a kiss?”
“I don’t think so.” She turned and marched through the crowd of grandparents and great-grandparents (yes, there were great-grandparents there) into her class. Not a backward glance in my direction.
Which was fine, because she probably would have only seen my backside as I was heading out. I had the quietest walk home in years, despite the fact that I still had one child with me. I think Baby K was in some kind of shock, because she hardly made any noise at all this morning. Maybe she’s always this quiet, but I don’t know it with the other 3 around.
The kids got out at noon today, and at 12:08 I heard the clunk-clunk of C’s scooter on the sidewalk cracks outside my window. He had a great morning. I took Baby K outside to wait for the sisters. We started walking at a toddler’s pace toward the corner and were just one house away when the girls came into view. A was in front, carrying both her and J’s backpack. This did not bode well.
“I’m sorry we’re so late Mommy. I promised J I wouldn’t tell you why.” Classic A maneuver: tattle without tattling. Clever girl.
“She was throwing rocks at me and didn’t want to come home and I kept having to go back and get her.”
I took J’s backpack and sent A on home. “Why were you acting like a toot on the way home from school?”
After she sent a hateful glare in her big sister’s direction, she looked at me. I could tell we were in for a long afternoon by the look in her eyes. Mad. Tired. Strong-willed. “I didn’t want to come home.”
At least there’s some good news – I won’t have to do battle before school tomorrow.