This year’s first day of school felt different. Perhaps it was because of our three first days so far it was the only one that had no true firsts. No one was starting school for the very first time or starting at a school we didn’t know.
There was a familiarity about this day. More like a continuation than a beginning. Instead of squeezing our feet into brand new, stiff sneakers, we slipped back into our old ones that were well worn and broken in. The morning came early, but it wasn’t particularly rushed or stressful. We had plenty of time for breakfast and for the all-important first day pictures with our trusty sign.
No doubt, things will get more hectic as the year unfolds. On days my wife works, there will be more to do, less time to do it, and more stress. I will have to get three kids ready to leave the house at 7:30 instead of just one. And there will be homework to manage and forms and more forms and weirdly specific projects to complete.
We’ll deal with all that later, though. On this day I was thankful for a smooth start.
It was only after I had walked the four-year-old to preschool and I was driving to pick up coffee that a little twinge of sadness hit me. A song called Sit Next to Me by the band Foster the People came on the radio. It’s one of the boys’ current favorites and it’s fairly ubiquitous on the alternative radio stations right now. They always sing along.
Of course, the four-year-old has his own version of the lyrics, as he seems to have for pretty much everything. Instead of “come over here sit next to me,” he insists that the song goes “come all you kids sit next to me.”
His version has a much different, and potentially problematic, tone. It makes me laugh every time he belts it out.
So, I was a little sad when the song came on while I was sitting in the drive thru line and he wasn’t there to sing it for me. All those kids had to just sit by themselves on this day.
But the sudden feeling of loneliness quickly passed. I got my iced coffee and once again everything felt right. After all, he was only gone for three hours. Hardly even long enough to notice. He sometimes watches Netflix for that long with only three bathroom breaks and five requests for snacks.
Yes, it seems as if I’ve reached that parenting stage where a little space after a long summer isn’t such a bad thing.
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