Since school has started for most kids across the United States, I thought I would share some of my memories of school days when my kids were young. This is another excerpt from my humorous memoir, A Dead Tomato Plant and a Paycheck, which is still under consideration for publication at a small independent publisher.
I clearly remember the first year I had more kids in school than I had at home. It’s hard to miss one or two when there’s still three or four hanging around. But this particular year I was down to two at home.
That first Monday morning of school, I got up bright and early, and surprisingly, with a very cheerful outlook. l don’t normally function too well in the mornings, smile or no smile, but that morning was very special.
This being only the first day, the kids were as excited about school as I was, and they were already dressed by seven o’clock. We had a nice leisurely breakfast. Then they collected their bags, their brand new supplies, and their lunches and were on the way by eight o’clock.
While the twins were engrossed in a television program, I sat down with a second cup of coffee and a book. (The quiet was almost deafening, but I loved every minute of it.)
I contemplated flaking the whole day away with my coffee and my book, but just the thought of that much caffeine gave me such a burst of energy, I couldn’t sit still.
By ten-thirty, I paused to take stock. In two and a half hours I’d done the dishes, two loads of wash, made beds, cleaned the bathrooms, and cleaned up my bedroom without a single interruption.
That reinforced my belief in the combined value of Sesame Street and the first day of school. But it was only the beginning. I had other special moments to savor throughout the day:
At lunch time, there were only two kids to make peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches for and to clean up spilled Kool-Aid after.
Later, I had two hours of solitude while they napped, and I didn’t want to do anything but sit on the sofa and enjoy my good feelings. I could have gone to my office to get a little writing done. After all, I’d been waiting most of the summer for more than fifteen minutes of solitude to write, but there was something so nice about just sitting on the couch in absolute silence, totally alone, nothing I had to do.
The therapeutic value of that first day of school was indescribable, and by two-thirty when Michael was due home, I felt like I had spent a year in a rest home. I was actually delighted to see his smiley little face and listen to him describe his day in a voice ten octaves higher than conversation level.
He was our resident Jason.
“School was great.”
“The teacher said cause I can read so good, I can help the other kids.”
“That’s nice, Michael, but you might want to work on your grammar.”
Considering how beautiful that first day of school was, you will understand why I was reluctant to let David come home early the next day when the school nurse called to say he was sick. He could have at least given me a full week of bliss before getting sick.