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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

One of "Those Mothers"

After having five children pass through the doors of our local elementary school for the first day of Kindergarten,  I can tell you that it never really gets easier to send them off to school.  If anything, it gets harder.  With our youngest child having just taken that all-important first step on her educational journey, I know a few things inevitably happen on those first few days of school:

1. The teacher will read The Kissing Hand.

2.  I will cry.

3. Color-of-the-days will shortly begin to occur.

4. I will sign up to volunteer in the classroom so I can spy on my child.

Now, I am sure Audrey Penn is a lovely person.  I truly hold her no ill-will, but her book, The Kissing Hand has caused more poor mothers to shed a sea of tears as they have sent their little babies off into the big scary world of school and big kids (have you seen some of those third graders? They're enormous!) than any other book in the history of the printed word (this is a rough estimate of course).  The first time I was exposed to this storybook was when it was read aloud the day I sent my twins off to school.  They were my youngest at the time and having them begin Kindergarten left a very huge hole in my day and my heart...  That sadness was renewed and amplified when they left for college (out-of-state) this year.  Thirteen years later, I thought I was a little more prepared to endure the emotional torture of sitting through a reading of that book as I had steeled myself to the potential of it being read.  It was no use.  See #2 above.  By the time the teacher read the penultimate page, where Mrs. Raccoon exclaims, "Chester loves me! Chester loves me!" I was a blubbering mess.  I was in good company as all the other moms (and one tender-hearted daddy) were in tears as well.

The reading of the dreaded book.

Now, I find we are in the midst of "Color Days."  For you uninitiated moms out there, on a given color day, your Kindergartner is to wear the color of the day or face complete social and academic annihilation for the remainder of their school career.  If you neglect to dress your child in red, for example, on Red Day, it is my understanding that child-protective services will be notified and that the chance that your child may have one day attended Harvard will be completely nixed.  The phrase, "This child has a bad mother" will likewise be stamped (ironically in red ink) on your poor child's permanent record.  Out of fear of ruining my children forever,  I have spent more than one school morning scrambling to find a red shirt, neck-tie, or even a red toothpick to hold between their teeth all day in order that a child of mine could fulfill a Color Day requirement... You'll have to ask my kids which one of them had to go school wearing two red Christmas stockings instead of shoes. Again, tears were shed.

During that thirteen year gap between our twins and the baby, I have had time to prepare.  And this year, I am ready for those dreaded Color Days!  I have purchased a T-shirt in every color imaginable and even machine embroidered the color names on them- I am particularly looking forward to "Chartreuse Day."  Because I have turned into one of "those mothers."  You know, the ones that do crazy stuff like give out hand-made Valentines, and give awesome hand-crafted teacher gifts that make everybody else look lame at Christmas time, or  volunteer to be the room-mother (although I didn't do THAT, I have my limits after-all). 

Not really, I did it for fun and because I want to continue to be an important part of this darling child's life, even as she enters the big world of school and friends and teachers.  Yesterday, as we walked up to the school and I held her still chubby little hand in mine, I closed me eyes for a second and told myself to remember this fleeting moment when she will still let me hold her hand in public and dress her in silly color day shirts.  I know from experience that it will all pass too quickly, but for now, my little "raccoon" still loves me best... although I know school is a close second...

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