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Mom's Time Out

Hurry Up and Slow Down

Mary Angel

(Dec, 2010) Here we go again, school has started. As the mom of four children I have seen plenty of back to school nights, the first day on the bus and everything else associated with starting school (or back to school). Whether it be my tears or theirs, the start of a new school year is anything but boring.

It all started in September of 2002 when my first child started preschool. It was such a big deal. It was a wonderful first day (after I stopped crying) since he met one of his best friends and I met one of mine. I had a one year old at home and so did my new friend and although my children were boys and hers were girls we all became fast friends.

When my oldest started kindergarten in 2004 I cried, but he didn't. My second child was starting preschool and the day went on forever. I luckily had a new baby at home to distract me with her cute smiles and giggles. During my sons first week of kindergarten he met his best friend, was bullied on the bus, and managed to survive. When he came home from school that day I hugged him for what seemed to be hours and then I scooped him, his brother, and my baby girl up and off we went miniature golfing.

When my second child started kindergarten in 2006 I cried a little less. Maybe it was the distractions of a toddler or news of my new pregnancy, whichever, it was a tiny bit easier. I still did my first day of school ritual where I follow the bus to school and take pictures. This day was different since the oldest was in school all day and his brother was in afternoon kindergarten. I was therefore following the bus twice that day and discovered that my kindergartener was on the bus for 45 minutes although we lived 10 minutes from the school. After a quick call to transportation, along with many other parents, the problem was resolved. At the end of the day our yearly tradition continued and we were off to miniature golfing.

September of 2007 rolls around and I again find myself home with only a three and a half month old. My oldest was off to 3rd grade, second oldest to 1st grade and my little girl was starting her first year of preschool and I was feeling old. I have often found it is not my birthdays that make me feel old it's my children's. Starting school with a little girl is different, but isn't everything between boys and girls. Leaving mommy was not on her agenda. Luckily for me her best friend showed up and she immediately forgot about mommy. As for her brothers, they were seasoned veterans of school, the bus, and our annual miniature golf excursion.

September of 2009 brought me a 5th grader, a 3rd grader, and my little girl starting kindergarten. This was my first year to deal with separation anxiety. I had seen some children have melt downs at the bus stop and thought "oh no, I wouldn't put up with that malarkey". Silly me, no matter how old I get, I still have those moments when the good Lord makes me eat my words. For a week she cried her way to school but overall kindergarten was a great year.

It's September 2010 and the start of my first middle school year. Is that possible, middle school, he can't be old enough and yet he can't wait to start. That in itself has made his back to school and mine magical. My 4th grader found out he has 4 friends in home room, which at that age meant life was great for him too, another home run. Preschool has been postponed a couple weeks which has made my empty nest not so empty, homerun number three. But 1st grade, remember when I said God has a way of making me eat my words... apparently it can be for several meals.

My 6 year old was about to show me what separation anxiety was all about. Each day the first week of school, except golf day, she would cry a little more and come home telling me she had cried all day. One night she asked, "do children in China have to go to school?" Not liking the answer she followed up with, "how about New York?" The second week was even worse until the day that I physically placed her on the bus and all but dove off as the bus driver shut the doors and pulled away. She ended up in the office and I was told I needed to make her ride the bus so she could work through this. A friend graciously offered to put her on the bus for a couple days and I hid at the local park waiting for the bus to leave like some sort of covert operative. Yet another proud parenting moment to add to my list of things I never thought I would do. Finally, some days later she got off the bus exclaiming, "I didn't cry all day, not at all!!!". I was so excited and proud that I grabbed her up and kissed her.

Starting school with your kids is very much a case of hurry up and slow down. The year starts with you saying, "hurry up and get your book bag" or "hurry up or you will miss the bus" and often ends with me wanting them to slow down because life seems to be passing us by so quickly. Although separation anxiety isn't something I hope any of us have to deal with again, what a blessing that she loves me that much and that I have a friend who was willing to so lovingly help me help her through it. So slow down and enjoy the good with the bad, the laughter with the tears, and the school days with the hot days of summer.

Read other articles by Mary Angel