Friday, September 7, 2012

Back-to-School Jitters

Like New Year's Day, the first day of school offers an opportunity to start over. Kids get new classes and new teachers. They make new friends and wear new clothes. They play on new teams and try out new enrichment activities.

Their parents get into the act as well. They post new photos on Facebook of their sons and daughters heading off to school. They might get a new haircut or reward themselves with getting through a long summer with scarce child care with a new pair of earrings. Perhaps they have a new schedule that enables them to pick their children up after classes or attend their kids' extracurricular activities. They adopt new routines at home and shepherd their kids through new homework.

The first day of school brings mixed emotions. Children experience excitement as well as anxiety. The jitters, in other words. Will they like their teachers? Why aren't some of their friends in their class? And for parents, well, the first day of school is loaded.

Our school district must have had the longest summer vacation in recent memory. We had not one snow day to make up, and we started the year yesterday six days later than last year when we did have numerous snow days. The end result: our summer vacation was two weeks -- yes, a full fourteen days! -- longer than last year.

It was a glorious summer. The weather was fantastic. We went away camping four times on multi-day/night trips -- to the Berkshires, Vermont, and Maine twice (to the same location back-to-back weeks, that's how much we enjoyed it). We spent a lot of time in a community-center outdoor pool: the boys playing, me swimming laps. We spent less time at the beach, though that's what late afternoons and weekends in September are for. And my oldest son had TWO Hollywood movie experiences. He saw himself onscreen in Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" as a boy scout ever so briefly. SO briefly, in fact, that I missed him (DEVASTATED!) and had to go back to the theater a second time to spot him as the camera panned across his face in one scene. But that was nothing compared to "Grown Ups 2." Christopher put in a few hours of work five days in a row filming a dance recital scene for the Adam Sandler sequel due out next July. (That hip hop/jazz class at the Y sure paid itself off!) It was pretty heady stuff, indeed, for an eight year old! Not to mention I got to be photographed with Adam and Alexander Ludwig (the hot young actor who played Cato in "The Hunger Games"), shake Shaquille O'Neal's hand, and see up close a host of other big stars. Honestly, it's going to be mighty tough to top the summer's highlights next year.

So as we transition to the school year, you can probably appreciate my slight apprehension. It's back to work, basically. The class I teach starts in ten days, and I need to get others lined up as well as perhaps accept a part-time job. Both of these ventures will take a fair amount of hustling. A single mother friend of mine and I have applied to lead a preparation workshop for would-be parents, yet it wouldn't be held till late fall. I will continue blogging, of course, but need to step up efforts to increase my fan base via social media. Also prominent on my plate: making a second stab at landing an agent for my memoir. After that, I need to nab a publisher. Or, conversely, pursue self-publishing, which I REALLY would rather not do. In other words, a lot must be accomplished this fall -- chief among my tasks being earning more money to support my family and pay for my house in my very expensive town.

Though I did as much work toward these ends as I could have given my sons' limited day-camp hours this summer, the past few months have largely been about having fun . . . and to THAT end, I succeeded magnificently. Sure, it would have been nice to have gone on a couple of dates, better still get into a romantic relationship. But you can't do everything, and nobody knows that better than a full-time single mother like me with no family help! Pulling the latter off with two young boys -- eight and a half and six -- would be akin to winning the Olympic gold medal in women's judo. For what it's worth, I ALMOST got invited on a date to a museum (Ha!), and I DID get invited to an adult/child party too many states away. So, for awhile there, I had my admirers: my blog fanboys.

I feel some anxiety about the start of the school year. However, I also feel a HUGE amount of relief from round-the-clock caregiving of rowdy boys. Was I ready to send them off to school for six and a half hours five days a week? HELL, yeah!!! I haven't had a break from them in nearly an entire month. Seriously. Their day camp ended at noon on August 10; their school opened at 8:25 a.m. on September 6. I was so desperate I made plans to watch FIVE children (mine and a friend's three) in order to get two or two and a half hours to myself in return. Alas (or maybe thank God), the arrangement fell through when my oldest son fell sick.

Next week will be absolutely surreal when Christopher and Charlie are in school for a full week for the first time in three months. What am I going to do with myself besides the aforementioned work? Besides the grocery-shopping, laundry, straightening up the house (bwaahahaha, I say with evil laughter), bill-paying, etc.? Maybe get a massage or facial. Go swimming in the community center's indoor pool. Take out my flatwater kayak for the first time this year.

Therein lies the excitement of transitioning to the new season. Bring it on!

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