Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go (Crazy!)

I have four children. And this year, all four of my children will be attending four different schools. Hello, Ca-ray-zee!! We got a little taste of the insanity to come last night at the various "Get Acquainted/Ice Cream Socials." It was a madhouse.

My eldest three children will be attending schools next door and across the street from each other. The junior high where my daughter will attend is next to the elementary school where my son will go and right across the street is the intermediate school which will house my other son. Convenient, no? Well, yes. And no.

It's great, if say, you need to drop off or pick up all three. Not so great when the Back to School nights are all on the same night. Then it's the Seventh Circle of Traffic Hell. Honestly, I think we spent more time parking, navigating parking lots, waiting to cross four lanes of traffic, and saying "pardon me, excuse me, whoops!" in the various hallways. If the hallways in these schools were an artery, they would be a heart attack waiting to happen.

Patrick and I had to divide and conquer the duties as James had to head to football practice. It was important that he get there on time because they were passing out equipment. When they hand out the equipment, they start with the eighth graders and work their way down the grades. So as a fifth grader, he wasn't getting the rickety and questionable equipment that he got in third grade, but you know, if you snooze you lose. And I didn't want mah preshus baybee to get left with bum equipment. I worry enough about him when he plays.

So we wound our way through the corridors to find James' homeroom teacher, drop off his supplies and practice opening lockers. As we were doing this, Maggie and her friend were off on their own saying hello to their former teachers, Sean was asking if we could "go to his school already!" and Mary was alternating between hanging on my arm and whining that she was bored and starving. Good times.

After Pat and James took off for practice, we braved the traffic to cross the street and find another parking spot. Then, Maggie and her friend headed into the junior high to stash things in their lockers and find their classrooms. (Maggie had been there for a preview last week, but due to a technology glitch, her friend--and several other students--didn't get their schedules. So Maggie offered to help her friend with her locker and find her rooms. She also wanted to put her supplies in her locker so she wouldn't have to carry it all in on the first day.) Sean and Mary and I hiked across Hell's Half-Acre to get to the elementary school. Once there, we found his classroom and met his teacher. Then Sean made a tour of the desks to see if any of his friends from last year had made it into his class. Meanwhile, I sorted through his pre-ordered school supplies.

Do you know about pre-ordered school supplies? It is the Best! Thing! Ever! Last spring, order forms were sent home for this genius convenience. I quickly forked over money and signed up. It was fabulous to show up and have the necessary supplies sitting right there in a box all ready. There was no questioning if I had the right markers. There was no arguing over pencil boxes. I don't know who came up with this idea, but I might just have the weensiest crush on them...

After checking out the classroom, we fought our way to the cafeteria for ice cream. (Yippee for ice cream before supper!!) Sean ran into several friends along the way and while he and his buddies compared classrooms and teachers, we parents discussed the insanity of the traffic situation and contemplated the merits of staying long enough to wait out the snarled traffic versus leaving quickly hoping to avoid even more madness.

As we left we talked about how different things are this year. Last year at this time, we were in the process of selling our house and trying to find another one. Last year at this time, we were getting ready to live with friends for more than a month. Last year at this time, everything was a big bubble of uncertainty and anxiety.

This year, the kids were familiar with their schools. They've all made friends in the neighborhood and at their schools. Faces are familiar. Routines are set. We all did a little collective sigh of relief at the relative familiarity of things. Change is good, but sometimes knowing what you're in for is even better.

So tomorrow, it's on baby!! Summer vacation officially ends today. And the craziness begins...

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