What I Love Lately: Back to School Edition

Dear Joey,

I watched Addie closely at the breakfast table this morning, soaking in the way she sat in her chair, feet dangling and humming to herself as she colored. She has done that every morning this summer, for hours and hours at a time. When she finally took a short break to munch on fried eggs and sliced strawberries, she chattered excitedly about how there were only four more days left until Kindergarten starts, and wave of lonesomeness washed over me. Feeling sentimental, I said, “Addie, I’m really going to miss you.”

Mia piped in, asking “Like when you’re dead?” We all laughed, and it felt good to giggle with those Goobies knowing next week I will be faced with the task of getting them back into the swing of a new routine.

 Both girls start school on Monday: Kindergarten for Addie and Pre-K for Mia. I spent last week scurrying around town outfitting them with everything they would need for the year ahead: school uniforms; socks and shoes; a matching backpack and lunchbox. This week there are haircuts and grocery shopping and doctor’s visits and new Epi Pens and all those forms. We’re lucky we don’t have to worry about shopping for school supplies for either of them this year (thank you, Pre-K and K school supply fee). I am already dreading next year when I will join the all other Target moms who approach the school supply aisle as a beast that must be tamed, eyes fierce and determined. By the time I am done, I imagine I will look just as bewildered as they do as they wait in the checkout line, wanting desperately to throw my hands up and holler “I give!”

Practically speaking, we are ready for Monday. Both girls have what they need, including excitement and confidence. Addie in particular. Yesterday she told me she fell in love with her school uniform jumper, plans to actually talk to her teacher on Monday, and let me know what kind of sandwich she would like in her lunchbox on the first day: tunafish with sweet relish on wheat bread, no crust please. This kid is pumped.

I have mixed feelings, of course. Preschool and Transitional Kindergarten trained us for well for the reality of “real” school days and I am ready for a break from wrangling all three kids at the same time. Pre-K isn’t as hard to swallow. I’ll have Mia with me for most of the day still. But Kindergarten: it’s like the first tile in a long stretch of dominoes winding its way through her school life. When we wave goodbye on the first day next week, we tip that tile and the rest will fall all too fast.


I believe we have done well to prepare her for her first day. And I also know there are plenty of other big moments to look forward to after this one passes. But for now, in these last few days, I am weepy. It is deeper than just waving goodbye to her for a few hours; we are waving goodbye to her babyhood. She has graduated into big kid land, and that is not easy for me. I am afraid I have not done enough to prepare her. Maybe that is why I spent so much time running around like a crazy person looking for the perfect back to school things–to make me feel a little better about the whole thing.

But anyway, out of all the things I picked up to prepare her for the big day, here are the things I love most:

1. Surprize by Stride Rite. These are our go-to school shoe for all the small, still-developing feet we have around here. I like regular Stride Rite, of course, but the last time we visited our local store there the proprietor wasn’t exactly kind, nor did he honor the advertised incentives that brought us into the shop that particular day. Plus, at Target, I don’t have to pay $60 for a pair of shoes these cute little toes won’t fit into in a few months. I can pay less than half that and still get high quality shoes that our kids really like.

2. Potterybarn Kids Mackenzie Backpack (Small). Addie adores this pretty little backpack, and I like it because it has cushioned straps and is a perfect fit for the small shoulders that will carry it every day. It has not come in the mail yet, so Addie has been practicing hanging her old backpack (that has always been much too big for her) on our new backpack hooks. It is in perfectly good condition, and I gave myself a bit of grief about it because she doesn’t really need a new fancy backpack. I forgave us this indulgence though because the girl fell in love with it, and if a beautiful backpack reinforces her excitement for school? So be it.

3. Also, this matching Retro Lunchbox–for so many reasons. First, it’s so cute I wish I had one of my own. Beyond that, it is tall and accommodates a warm food thermos with ease. Also, the buckle is genius–hook the thing right onto the backpack and wave goodbye with confidence, knowing the little lady won’t forget her lunch as she leaves the car in a hurry, as I imagine she will.

4. Sistema Food Containers. These are so easy to open, which is a big deal in the confidence department for Addie. The last thing I want to do is set her up for failure. Knowing she can open and close these things without help eases my own nervousness about lunchtime success, so I can only imagine how they must make her feel. Bonus that we found their dressing containers–she was perhaps even more excited than I was to find them, saying she could have ketchup with her carrots without spilling the sauce. We spent a lot of time this summer practicing opening and closing them, as well as ripping labels off of granola bars and poking straws into juice boxes. She is confident she can do lunch on her own now, which is both super awesome (she doesn’t need me anymore!) and heartbreaking (she doesn’t need me anymore!).

So you see? We’re set. I think.

My mom took Addie out for a shopping and lunch date today. They never actually made it to lunch, though. Addie said she didn’t really want to go to a restaurant: she was anxious to get home because she missed her Mommy. It made me feel a little less silly about being so weepy lately. I guess we will both have to get used to this new dynamic–being away from each other so much.

I gave both girls a few more hugs than usual today. Hopefully by Monday they will be so tired of me they will skip off to class without a backward glance. Then again, that would make me cry too.


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