Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Back to School Sidewalk Sale

They don't do that anymore do they? shame. I have fond memories of downtown Bountiful, hot pavement, bad selection, picked over sizes, milling crowds and marked down ugly Buster Browns. Oh, on closer inspection, those memories aren't of the fond variety, but remembering the sidewalk sales takes me right back to my elementary school daze. The sixties, nothing like 'em, good times, good times.

Today was the first day (or first of four half days of school, really, why bother?) and the race is back on or, a more apt metaphor would be the gerbil is back on the wheel for another academic year. The only school shopping memories my girls will have will be centered around ripping open the Land's End boxes on the porch. I fear that point click UPS delivery just won't be as evocative 30 years from now of the first days of school as the words "sidewalk sale" are for me, shame really.

However, how do I feel about school starting up again?: If I had half a clue about computer stuff, I would know how to find some zesty graphics or clip art of a tiny defenseless person just about to be swept away by a tidal wave of paper to illustrate how I feel this evening. Having four in elementary school at the same time and keeping track of homework, homework folders, reading assignments, reading charts, spelling lists, menus, student profiles, student supply lists, teacher and classroom supply lists, field trip sign ups, poetry folders, and various ME bags is feeling a bit much right at the minute. So instead, I figure why not update the blog because even though I'm feeling decidedly flat and unamusing this month, writing a blog entry is much less daunting than the pile o' crap waiting for me on the kitchen table. Really, I must be nuts. I really need my head examined because it's not like any of my children were "accidents." This was all planned, I knew exactly what I was doing when I sent in each adoption application, there were no oopsies in the bunch unlike my youngest brother Clark, he was a definite oops, but I really like him so that worked out okay in the long run. So I only have myself to blame, but when Nora's teacher said "I just don't know how you do it?" I replied, "well you're about to see first hand how I don't do it very well sometimes, and only just adequately the rest of the time." I should have added: "Please have patience with me and try not to resent me too much when everything you send home gets lost in the roaring vortex of homework/announcement/half-page permission slip of paper doom," but how do you do it is more of a rhetorical question and I didn't want to overstep my answer.

And it's those half-page sized dealies that are sure and certain to be important as in please mark your calendars or please sign and return before yesterday that are sure and certain to get lost/recyled/used as scratch paper, never fails.

And yes, last spring I made the decision to hold Nora back and within two days, I had changed my mind and let Nora graduate from Kindergarten with her sister. Nora started first grade today. She is tall and competitive and too smart to be held back. I had to process and accept the fact that Nora will struggle to learn and regardless if I made her repeat kindergarten, she would still struggle to learn because that is just who Nora is going to be, a different learner. I can't protect her from the struggle even though holding her back felt like I was protecting her. I wasn't. I was only protecting myself from watching her flail and fail and feel hurt and "less than." And I have to admit that holding her back also protected me from the the extra effort it will take on my part from now on to help Nora do her best in school. It has now become my struggle to find out how to help her learn without so much struggle and tears and shame.

I've had it so easy with the oldest three. They may not ever be Rhodes Scholars, but they won't make me worry about how in the world they will ever make a living or support themselves. I have to come to terms with my Nora, who, in addition to being a child who is an emotional challenge to raise, is also a challenge to teach and learns differenlty than her peers. I can't sit back anymore and just beam with pride like I have for the past five years since Ellie started kindergarten. I have to learn how this whole public education system works and how to make it work better for Nora. And did I mention that I'm lazy? to the bone? and beaming with pride is easy, but learning a whole new language with it's own special jargon and pushing for the right extra assistance is hard and, on the whole, I'd really rather not? But, apparently, that's what other parents do and now I need to do that too. But while I'm doing that, there's nothing says my kids can't look damn cute on the first day of school. Not only do I beam well, I burst buttons pretty good too.


Yes, Minister... said...

And they do look damn cute.

Hey, I just wanted you to know that if you need anyone to talk to about Nora, I am a phone call away. I am sure that this was a hard decision and reading you post about coming to terms was very tender and sweet. There are tons of resources available to Nora in the public school system and she may just knock your socks off :D

Right now I feel like I am drowning, and last night Ian lost a paper and we had code red hysterics at the house looking for it!

Bonnie said...

I would SO reject the idea that every child bring a ream of paper to school! When I had 4 kids all in elementary school, I tried to stem the tide of duplication by collecting them and bringing them to Back-to-School Night. To no avail. They are supposed to have an "oldest or only" policy for sending stuff home, but as I sit here with 3 identical chubby envelopes that each cost me (taxpayer) 54 cents in postage alone, I shake my head, and mutter my vow. But, those are some cute kids!

Lisa and Tate said...

What cute gals already for school! Good luck keeping track of all the papers....

Hey, I see Liza B in one of the pictures! Fun that all three are in the same grade!