By Eileen Wacker
I have four kids aged fourteen, fourteen, ten and nine years oldwho attend two different school campuses, and, I have a demanding job. My husband also has a demanding job, and since his “demanding” is bigger than mine, I man the front lines with help from“Kelli.”We approach the fall with sweet anticipation. Finally, the allure of “a back to school routine” is here.
We just got through summer camps, family visits and vacations or stay-cations. By the time the first day of school rolled around, I dreamt about driving my minivan to the curb, coming to an almost halt and pushing the kids out, saying, “have the best day ever!” Of course they have perfectly packed backpacks, sunscreen, weather appropriate clothing, the right clothes and shoes for sports, the right piano books, an organic home lunch and agreed meeting spots for ‘after school’ to make sure the pick-up runs smoothly. My kids have updated themselves with the new electronic policies at school so they never break a rule. The one who goes to school forty-five minutes away will get on the bus he is supposed to in the morning. He will also get on the right bus to the pool to try out for water polo and actually make the team. Then I wake up.
The alarm is buzzing, screeching through my senses. I look over. Six oh one. I get up, brush my teeth and wander upstairs. My oldest is already up as she wants to straighten her hair. The other three reluctantly get up and make their way to the kitchen. No one feels like eating but I insist. I become the mommy food pusher. I hear myself saying, “You need a full drink or you will get dehydrated. If you don’t eat anything, you’ll get a head ache.” I can’t stop myself and prattle on at them. They have future coffee drinker written all over them.
They dress in clothes I wouldn’t choose. But they have eaten a little and sunscreen their faces. We get in the minivan. We drop our son at his bus stop as he travels across town. Then I head into town to my other kids’ school. My phone rings and my daughter answers it as I am driving and trying to set a reasonably good example. My son wants to try out for water polo as his friend will play. Can I buy him some jammers and meet him at the pool in town after school?He also left his home lunch in the minivan.
At the other kids’ school, the traffic on campus is grueling and people are not following the “drop off line” rules. Cars are randomly stopping, not going to the designated spots. For the most part the moms (except the new moms) follow the rules anddrop their kids correctly. I say, “Everyone ready?” and glance into the back. Somehow my nine-year-old daughter has come to school in two different flip-flops. She says,“this is how all the kids wear them now”. I give her my suspicious eyes. First, socks that don’t match last fall and now shoes that don’t match?
This week, I have two laptop meetings, four meet-the-teacher nights and endless sports/activities parent information meetings.
At the end of the first school day, I go to pick up the kids. Two are there. The nine-year-old is not. She does not have a phone. I park and all three of us scour the school grounds looking for my daughter. She assumes I knew she would decide to go to the swings. All the fourth graders go there after all. When I see her, I hug her and say, “Ask for a phone for Christmas.” She has been begging for one – now, I need her to have one. Then we rush to find the new courts for Junior Tennis Team practice. I am sweating as I drop the two youngest off. One has the wrong shoes and I brought one wrong racket. I forgot to pack a cooler and they have no socks.
I have to race across town to drop off the“jammers”. My son says, “Mom these kids have been playing together since last year. I don’t have a chance.” He goes and changes and jumps in. He looks forlorn. I want to jump in and try out for him.He’s right, the coaches aren’t even watching the new kids. It’s been predetermined. The tryouts are a formality. This drives me crazy but it happens everywhere. Note to self, “have husband complain.”
I missed two deadlines today and a conference call with Seoul. We set up a charging station in the kitchen so everyone can charge their laptops and cell phones. The phone rings and it is my husband. He asks, “Anyone up to go out for a burger?” I just laugh and say, “maybe tomorrow night. We’re just getting back into our routine.” Then I put on my best strict voice and say, “Okay everyone, homework, showers and a good night sleep.” My youngest asks, “Then after can we go on-line and find Halloween costumes?” I would laugh but she is not kidding. •