Thursday, August 16, 2007

School Time

I'm not totally sure where this post is going, but I just feel like I had to write about this topic and get it out there. So, we'll see where we end up! ;)

Z and I live in Ames, Iowa. A university town. A town that adds about 26,000 people to its population THIS WEEK. Suddenly all the Target, Walmart, K-Mart, and HyVee checking lanes are full and guiding your shopping cart through the stores seems more like time playing "bumper cars" than it does like a shopping expedition. Moms and Dads are busy buying school supplies, new backpacks, new clothes, etc. for their little ones and more experienced Moms and Dads are busy buying new bedding, storage containers, groceries, computers, and expensive books for their new college student children.

Ever since I started attending graduate school here in Ames, I have loved and dreaded this week. I love the anticipation of a new school year (even if I'm no longer attending school). I love seeing all the students come back to campus. I love seeing little kids picking out new school supplies. I love the smell of fresh, new erasers. But, I also dread having all the students come back to town. It means that city buses are more full. Traffic gets more complicated (you know, for a midwestern town). And the trips to Target and the grocery store get longer because I have to wait so much longer in lines.

This year, this week seems especially bitter-sweet to me. This is the first year (since starting Kindergarten) that I am NOT enrolled in school. The first year in all of my life (except for those pre-school years). I'm excited to be moving on to a new chapter, but at the same time, a little sad. I've ALWAYS been a student. And now, I'm not.

To add to that, last week Jellybean turned 5. Our oldest little boy is no longer a pre-schooler. He could officially join a Kindergarten class. The first year at school. That means excitement! That means buying new school supplies (crayons, pencils, rulers, glue, markers, erasers, pencil boxes, paper, scissors, etc.). It means picking out a new backpack, new tennis shoes, new clothes, and a lunchbox (or filling the lunch account at school). I so look forward to the days when I can take my boys shopping for all these new and exciting school supplies. And if Jellybean were home, we'd be doing it now.

A week or so ago, I went to Target and purchased a bunch of school supplies for the boys so that we would have them at home when the boys got here. Afterall, this is the time of year to get that kind of stuff. The stores have TONS of it, its on sale, and you can buy a box of crayons for 12 cents. But, its not the same as it would have been had the boys been home. Now the school supplies are sitting in a rubbermaid storage container in their room, just waiting to be opened and used in artwork, practicing letters and numbers, and gluing construction paper together to make handprint turkeys and the like. I wasn't one of the moms carrying around a school supply list from their school district, checking off items as they were added to the shopping cart. I wasn't one of the moms measuring her child's foot in the shoe aisle, trying to determine just how much his/her feet had grown over the summer. I wasn't one of the moms who had that lump in her throat as she shopped, knowing that her "baby" would be heading off to school in a few days.

Not this year anyway. Next year that will be me.

For some reason, Jellybean's birthday last week has struck some sort of chord in me. When we accepted the referral of the boys we knew Jellybean was 4 and Peanut was 3. I knew in my head that Jellybean would be 5 when he got home and Peanut would be either 3 or 4 (depending on when they got here). But, knowing when his birthday is...having the day pass without him here...and knowing he has now just turned 5 seems so BIG. 5 years old. Suddenly this little boy doesn't seem so little anymore. He has 5 years of personal history. We've missed 5 years of his life. 4 years didn't seem so much...but 5?!? That seems like a lot. When he gets here, he'll be old enough to go right to school. We'll be just bringing the boys home and we'll have to decide whether or not to enroll him in school right away, or hold him back until the next school year (while working on "school stuff" at home).

Most moms get 5 years to work up to that first day of school. I'll be lucky if I get a few months.

Mommy-hood...I better get ready. I'm not a mom yet (in life)...but I have two very handsome little boys waiting for me across the ocean. In my heart, I'm their mom...they're just not here yet.


Anita and Family said...

Chanda, you and I are so much alike sometimes! I just couldn't give up the new eraser smell after college so I became a teacher so that I could keep that first day of school excitement forever! Then life intervened and 3 kids later I don't get that joy for myself anymore, but rather experience it through my kids. The few years when I wasn't teaching and the kids weren't old enough for school were LONG years! LOL!

I also identify with the "now this is old" feeing you're having about jellybean. I think lots of a-parents go through that. With Bright 12 months was just fine. But when he hit 18 months and wasn't home yet it really hit me HARD. My child had passed one stage (infancy) and entered another (toddlerdom). But you know the really great thing? God just somehow magically makes everything alright once your kids are home. Jellybean won't seem too old when he gets home--instead he'll be perfectly jellybean and you won't be able to imagine him any other way!

And having met him I can say that he definitely has plenty of preschooler curiosity and love of life left in him.


Stacie said...

I have chills after reading that post.. you definitely are a mom because only a mom could feel that way about her boys. So sweet. I can't wait for them to come home to you!