It’s Back to School… and I’m a Wreck

Brookline Tab, September 2000

Can we just stop the clock here? It can’t be fall. I don’t have any closed-toe shoes. What about the kids? No school clothes. No new lunchboxes. Where has the time gone?

For my family, the clock is stuck sometime in July. Maybe it’s the same for everyone else, because of the awful June weather we had. Summer started a month late, so should autumn! And my family moved at the beginning of August, which threw us off quite a bit. I spent all of June lining up contractors and sorting through our things. I spent all of July worrying about contractors getting work done and packing up. I spent all of August angry at the work the contractors had done and unpacking. Sometimes we went to the beach, I think. I know that tan is not completely from a bottle.

Sometime in early July we got the class assignment. It was then that I realized for certain that I don’t deal very well with changes (and we hadn’t even moved into the new house yet). I took one glance at the way they had divided up the kids and I nearly fell over. I had heard that they were going to break up particular groups of kids — and they did. A second glance showed me that my son was with a few of his friends, anyway. My friends and I began to call each other and talk about it.

“What do you think of the mix? What do you know about the teacher?”

“I think it’s great. So-and-so is in there, too.”

“She’s new, but fabulous.”

“They’re amazing. He’s going to love it.”

Nobody had anything negative to say. Wasn’t anyone else nervous like I was?

I decided to put it out of my mind — for now. And then, just before school started, we actually received a piece of our forwarded mail — and it was from the school. After the initial letter we had not done very much more talking or thinking about the new class assignments, other than noting who was in the new class and who were the new teachers. Instead, we plunged into August with a vengeance trying to make our house livable and trying to sqeeze fun into every day that the sun shone (all two of them). The letter was from my son’s new teachers, welcoming him to the class. My heart was in my mouth as I read over his shoulder and I thought, “Oh no! Here it comes! The fears! The doubts! The new class! The new teachers! The changes!”

I asked my son about it, trying to be calm, reassuring. Trying to be quiet, so that he had space to express his doubts. “So — what do you think?”

He shrugged. “Okay, I guess.” He was smiling at the funny stationery the teachers had used.

“But what about these new teachers? On a different floor?”

A pause. “Cool.”

“Are you going to be okay with the kids in there? It’s a different bunch than last year.”

“Mm. Yeah,” he said, throwing down the letter. “Can I have a playdate now?”

Nothing to worry about. So why am I so stressed?

Because I’m the one who is worried about all the change. I’m nervous because I don’t know the new teachers (even though I hear they’re great). I’m the one who is adjusting to the new location of the new classroom. I’m the one who is still learning all of the other parents’ names! My son walked in with his new class on the 7th and didn’t even look back. I had to yell to him to slow down so I could take his picture as he walked into school — this was the first year I actually remembered my camera on the fist day. But he didn’t even hear me. He was absorbed in conversation with a kid. Maybe I need to learn from my own child. Relax. It’s only the beginning of the new school year. Nothing to worry about.