Thursday, August 24, 2006

My Last First Day

Today was the first day of school for DD#2. She's an 8th Grader, so it's her "Last First Day." That's kind of what 8th Grade is all about--the ending of so many things and the beginning of the rest.

Today was my "Last First Day," too. After 16 years, this is finally our last year at our local parish school as parents of a student. I am an "8th Grade Mom," the top of the food chain. I know where most of the bodies are buried, although I can't really tell anyone about the faculty--there's been a lot of change over the years.

And, yes, I did get a bit verkemplt, especially when they had the new students stand up. The entire Kindergarten class stood, a bit dazed, in brand new pants and jumpers, bright red sweatshirts that are slightly too big for them. In contrast, there are the 8th Graders, whose sweatshirts are a bit faded, whose skirts are a bit short. They know where to put their backpacks and bags of tissue boxes and paper towels.

My daughter was quickly surrounded by her buddies. Most of them came to her birthday party just last month and they've all kept in touch via MySpace, Gaia, IM, or even, most anachronistically, by phone. I hardly recognized the boys, though. They've grown taller, developed Adam's apples, lost their chubby cheeks. There are shadows of mustaches on their upper lips. Their voices are deeper.

Mr. Caurant was remembered. Many of the 8th Graders wore orange "rubber band" bracelets in his memory. The Student Council will be sponsoring some events. One of the moms who is trained in grief counseling is doing some activities with the Middle School classes and is available if any kids simply need to talk. I'm glad the faculty decided to acknowledge Mr. Caurant's death openly and simply, which allows the students to move to celebrating his life.

So, now all four children are back in school. The carefree days of summer are done. We're back to schedules and bedtimes and homework and projects and reports and being responsible and accountable, albeit with new shoes, new binders, new pencils.

Unfortunately, High School doesn't have a Welcome Back Coffee on the first day. I'm going to miss laughing and commiserating with the other parents next year. I'll have to come up with a new ritual!