School started for three-quarters of the children of clan Puddin on Wednesday (The Attitude starts preschool next month, and we aren’t sure what to expect when that happens—a toddler-led revolt, perchance?). Obviously, the first day of school means making the long walk to the bus stop, the middle-aged Dad’s version of “dead man walking”.
Last year, I posted something about the first day of school that I felt pretty good about at the time. I just reread it, and I’m not sure who actually wrote that piece, but it seems like they did an OK job. I’m not sure I can add anything to it.
I would, however, like to point out that yesterday my facebook news feed looked like the old fall Sears and Roebuck, Co. catalog. You remember that, right? It was that thick book that came in the mail every September, chock full of glossy pages showing kids with plastic, Ritalin-influenced smiles and dead, doll’s eyes just being cool and hip in brand new clothes.
At least, that’s what I vaguely recall. In all honesty, I usually flipped right to the back where all the Christmas toys were found. I’d bend down the corner of that first toy-related page and forget all about Suzy Sweater and Jeffrey Blue-Jeans. That way, all I had to be irritated by was the occasional pink-tinted page of—ick—girls’ toys.
Stupid Barbie pinking up everything.
Anyway, I was tickled pink (see what I did there?) at having picture after picture of school-bound, backpack-laden kids fill up my facebook feed Wednesday. It reminded me of PetFinder, but with kids: “Joey’s a great kid with a winning smile that wants to warm your heart. Seen here in his new back-to-school Shaun White shirt and sporting a brand new ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ movie-themed backpack, he’s ready to take this school year by force.”
For the record, currently offended readers, what I meant is that the pictures were chock-full of cute, like a gaggle of puppies. I wasn’t associating anyone’s kids with animals or suggesting they might be free to a good home. Although, admittedly there are days*…
Oh, and lest you think I’m mocking other people here, rest assured that’s not the case. The Puddinette and I took the pre-bus-stop pictures and the pre-boarding pictures and oh-my-God-there-the-bus-goes-down-the-street-what-do-we-do-now pictures.
The irony here is that most of those pictures the kids could do without. To them, at this point, it’s just another First Day of School. Sure, that makes it a special day, but not the same way it does for us parents. For me, it’s one more in a very finite possible number of notches on the closet doorframe, another year closer to seeing them living independent lives where I’m, at best, a mostly forgotten, yet warm, comfortable thought in the back of their respective heads. Kind of like a mental security blanket or a psychological cup of cocoa.
My kids got on the bus yesterday without any looks back, or any last-minute hugs. Sure, there were smiles and waves from the windows, but nothing more than I could expect on any other given day. The first day of school is part of the ritual of childhood now, one more step up the staircase.
If only that was all it meant to me.
*I’m just kidding…really.