Friday, August 9, 2019

The First Day of School

I go there early enough to secure a parking space and avoid the drop-off traffic jam. 

"Hi, Grandma Suzi!" greeted me before I could lock my vehicle.  A smile appeared on my face, one that stayed there for the next hour.

"This is his first day of school," one now very grown up first grader told me about the young man beside him.  "This is our school's Grandma," he told his little friend.  "She's really nice."

Isn't that a lovely way to start the day?  It only got better.

Joseph got a really short haircut.  One of the Esther's had a brand new brown and gold gown to show me.  Last year's Student Council President gave and got a giant hug before she left and went next door, to start middle school.  The teachers asked for luck for the coming school year.

Parents who forgot their registration forms kept their youngsters waiting while the information was recorded.  Some dropped off their students, only to have to return and finish the documentation.  It was very hard to wait in the lobby until all the paperwork was completed.  It was hard not to be peeved at Mom.  All I could do was commiserate; I was peeved on their behalf.

How hard is it to return a form or two at the end of the school year?  They go home in backpacks and can be returned the same way.  There are translators available if language is a barrier. It's possible to skate by and never attend an assembly or a play or an awards ceremony, but filling out the required data to enroll your child is non-negotiable.  It should be done on time.  Otherwise, your kid sits on a chair, waiting for you to do what you should have done a while ago.

There.  It's out.  I couldn't say it at school, but I can rant here.  Thanks for listening.

But most of the kids were not so encumbered by parental neglect of their duties.  They huddled in small groups on the playground before lining up with their teachers and finding their classrooms.  The maelstrom that was the lobby was suddenly quiet.  Everyone was where they were supposed to be, except for the girl whose mother was just now starting to fill out the forms.  Latecomers were gently scolded - "School started 10...15...20 minutes ago.  You need to be here on time from now on, okay?" - and sent on their way. 

The front office staff took a big breath.  The year has begun.
That was going to be the whole post.  I'd written it in my head as it was happening, collecting anecdotes and impressions to share, making it up as I went along until this:

A mom a little bit older than most of the others in the room approached me.

"Do you work here?" 

I explained myself and my long involvement with Prince.  Before I could finish she asked  the question that had kept her up the night before - "How safe is this school?"

The front door was buzzed open for her yesterday.  Today, people strolled in and out with no one really watching.  She was dropping off her 5 year old.  Would she be protected in this strange new space?

I covered my dismay.  I told her about CTG, establishing my I know just how you feel credentials at the outset.  I described the double locking doors, the evaluation before the buzzer is pressed, the presence of a police officer between the two schools, the locked gates.  I talked about her fears and tried to reassure her that everything that could be done was being done to safeguard her little treasure.

I drove home thinking about FlapJilly and dropping her off at school for Junior Kindergarten.  I spent an inordinate amount of time that day explaining to the teacher that the kid could tie her own shoes.  Why I felt the need to share that information in that much detail remains a mystery to this day.  But, Mrs. Wilson listened and nodded and I left feeling a lot better.  That was my big worry.

What a world we a giving our kids.... the little ones who might be targets and the grown up ones who are sending them off to school.  The first day of school jitters should be about making friends and finding the bathroom and will I like lunch.

Bullets should have no part of it.

If you haven't called your Senator and demanded that Moscow Mitch call them back into session to do something about keeping us safe, here's the number for the United States Senate - 202-224-3121.


  1. Wouldn't it be lovely if EVERY school could have a Grandma?

    1. Lovely for the Grandma and lovely for the school!


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