Back to School: The Journey

Let’s face it. Going back to school is a dream for kids. They get to see their friends, eat cafeteria food, get shiny new backpacks and even wear new clothes.

But, it’s work for Moms. I was thinking about what got me through it. What were my “keys to success” for the various stages in this endearing process?

Kindergarten and First Grade. I took a picture of Alex on his first day of school, standing in front of the monument sign for his school. Lunch box in hand and a big ole’ smile. Although it was embarrassing at the moment, later he really enjoyed looking back and seeing those photos over the years. (I did the same thing by the Christmas tree each year, and that is really fun to see how he has changed over time). Soccer was such fun and getting up early on a Saturday morning didn’t seem to bother me. It was just fun to watch them all swarm on the field. We made the team banner out of felt. We rotated the snack duties. Friendships with other parents on the sidelines lasted for years.

Middle School. It was all about shopping. Clothes started to play a bigger role, and we had to “dress for success.” Many of the clothes couldn’t even be worn until late October, but at least they were there, right?

High School. “Back to school” was all about sports and football. How I got wrangled into the Booster Club and having to stock the concession stand and run the car wash fundraisers, I will never know. But, roped in I certainly was. And, although I was working full-time, this became my new weekend job. I could not wait for football season to be over!

College. Now, this is when back to school got quite expensive. Not only were we packing up the car for the journey north, but there were a staggering amount of expenses. The rent, tuition, books, the food. And, then, there were the electronics and gadgets. No student could be without an iPad, the latest mobile device, a computer, printer, whiz-bang camera, and now, of course, a GoPro to record snowboarding holidays and other shenanigans. My head was spinning! Our trip to IKEA with the ginormous cart was like something out of a Lucille Ball television show. I kept looking for the camera, as we tried to maneuver our way around the warehouse aisles, picking up a bed, headboard, tv stand, couch–the list went on and on. I was exhausted. Luckily for me, Alex is very good at assembling such treasures. I missed him when he went away to school, but two things got me through it. I started a new tradition. I would have Alex call me every Sunday evening. Typically, Sundays we were home, and I would look forward to those calls. We would catch up on the week past and the week ahead. Sometimes, we would Facetime on the iPad. I also would send him short letters with a few pictures and a Starbucks Card, or a restaurant gift card for a little treat.

Alex, just this May, graduated college, so our back to school adventures are a thing of the past. He is seeking full-time employment, and we are not sure where that will take him–nearby, or perhaps across the country. Boy, am I glad those days are over. Or am I?  Be careful what you wish for, as they say. And, all those photos and memories are now little treasures in my world.