Over the past week both Harrison and Grace started school. For Harrison, it was the beginning of 2nd Grade. It was both less exciting and less anxiety-provoking than the past two years of seeing him off on his first bus trip. Two years ago was his first bus ride as he headed off to kindergarten. Last year he was headed off to a new school and his first full day. This year that had all been done. Same bus, same bus driver, and same school. He got ready and headed out just like any day last year. The only differences, of course, were a new class of kids, a new teacher, and the absence of Luke.
I was strangely comforted when I learned this week that Luke wasn't going to be in Harrison's class. I guess that meant that Harrison's life won't be dramatically altered in a practical way on a day-to-day basis. Those who meet Harrison in his shy turtle mode would be surprised to hear that he was quite the chatterbox in school last year, and Luke was his most common accomplice. Knowing that losing Luke won't have a major impact on this classroom time is some consolation.
Still, Luke's absence hung over that first morning like a cloud.
I was determined to walk HJ out to the bus on his first day of 2nd grade, but as with anything around here there were logistical problems (by the name of Shepard and Kennedy). If I put them in the stroller and took them down the driveway they would probably be quiet and watch the scenery, but then it would all be about them rather than HJ. Also I didn't think I could deploy the NASA-designed folding twins stroller without Sarah's help (finding it is no problem, however -- it is always In The Way). If I stopped to feed them I wouldn't make it to the driveway until after the bus was long gone. But if I left them unfed I expected I would return to the house to hear them shrieking from abandonment, perhaps already having learned to dial the phone to report me to protective services and Oprah (Irresponsible Parents Who Leave Their Twins Home Alone). Maybe I would even be able to hear the shrieking from the road, the Telltale Twins announcing my irresponsible choices to the neighbors.
So I strapped them into their vibrachairs and held bottles for each of them while Harrison got ready. They only got a few ounces before I took the bottles away and left with Harrison, but it was enough. They only looked mildly (and quietly) impatient when Grace and I returned to the house.
In keeping with the family tradition started by my Mom, I got a "first day of school" picture of Harrison before he got on the bus. I did break with tradition somewhat in not requiring him to stare into the sun while I took the picture. First-day-of-school pictures of Amy and I show the strange combination of excitement, pride in our new metal lunchboxes, and retinal burning.
The bus arrived, Harrison hopped in, and found a seat. In a few moments our new second grader was out of sight. I had the typical, can't-win parent attitude: Relief that I was down to three kids to care for quickly changed to sadness that I only had three kids to care for. Is it just me, or do all parents manage to find sadness in every happy milestone?
That Friday Grace got to visit Pooh Corner, the preschool run by Saline Area Schools. This was the same program Harrison attended when he was four, so it felt to me like Grace was a little too young. When we got there, though, there were lots of kids her age. I think she'll do well.
There were two major requirements for Grace to attend Pooh Corner:
- She had to be completely potty trained. They don't do toileting at Pooh Corner.
- She had to stop calling it "Poop Corner." It was an understandable mistake considering how much we kept telling her about item #1, but I can't imaging what kind of a place she thought we were sending her. A place called Poop Corner where you have to go potty on the potty?