Ten Days in One

Yesterday was the first day of school.
You know that weird time-lapse trick that happens on really big days? The trick that makes normal 24-hour days feel like they hold an entire week’s worth of activities?
Y’all. Yesterday was like ten days rolled into one.
Before we even left for school, the kids had lived a full day of emotions, discussions, and activity. Catie, new to Westlake, had already thought plenty about her uniform and hair and her water bottle, all very big deals to Fourth Grade Girls. (Mamas, can I get an amen here about this? What IS it about the water bottles?And the hand sanitizer? No one fear. We are raising a very hydrated, sanitized generation.).
Nate, also new to Westlake, had not really grasped the image of himself in that red shirt and khaki shorts. He was equal parts thrilled and scared to join ALL THE KIDS at Westlake.
Surprisingly, the two Westlake newbies were not the nervous ones. Sam slept in until the very last second, making the four thousand pictures I took a little tricky. And Elisabeth displayed her nerves by melting down about her socks. This happens so frequently at our house, I’m just about to ban tennis shoes from our home.
M and I both dropped off the kids, as did just about every family. Plus, our beloved Aunt Katie drove all the way out to Westlake to give each kid a huge first-day-of-school hug. How happy is that?
The enthusiasm and excitement inside the school were palpable. Hugs, cameras, racing pulses, tears, screaming, everything. If I could bottle up all that energy and sell it, I could buy a lot of water bottles and hand sanitizer. Almost enough for the first month of school.
After chapel, I headed over for breakfast to meet with some friends. The energy for another school year at a school we love buzzed through every conversation. These moms are ready. Bring on the projects, the impossible math homework, the difficult classmates. We will handle it like bosses. We are moms fresh from summer; we are a force.
Then back to pick up the kids, who reported wonderful (half) days all around. Nate zeroed in on the teacher aide and camped out on her lap all day. This wonderful aide had Sam and Elisabeth in class last year, so she knows not to give a Hergenrader kid an in to her lap. They will dominate it.
Because we apparently hadn’t had enough new experiences in one day, we headed to lunch with M. He met us at a new restaurant, which only serves mac and cheese. The kids, so over exciting, new things, all declared they hate mac and cheese. Clearly they were acting out because, what?
I sensed the kids needed to feel in control of something, so I let them talk me into a trip to the animal shelter. Catie is planning to have her birthday party there, and she loves to go and dream about the big day. Two hours after our first half day of school, we were all covered in dog fur and chatting with homeless pets. Some things never change.
We got home with just enough time to unpack ALL THE LUNCHBOXES AND BAKPACKS and collapse. Then M reminded me the annual church picnic started in an hour. Truthfully, we could have all fallen asleep right then because we had already lived through a week.
But it was only four o’clock, and who am I kidding? Even if I would have put the kids to bed at seven, they would spent the next hour giggling and screaming until I was really the one screaming up the stairs. Without the giggling, mind you.
So, we threw together a “side dish” (I use this term so, so loosely), some towels, and bathing suits. The picnic was at a lake/campground. I didn’t know what to expect, so I didn’t even put on a bathing suit. Thankfully M did because… Oh, My Goodness.
The “lake” turned out to be a waterpark-in-a-lake, and any kid’s dream come true. I was expecting some ducks and maybe a little swimming. This lake was tricked out with zip lines, massive trampolines. water slides four stories high, and scaffolding for jumping into the lake.
Because I wasn’t wearing my suit, I could only stand on the shore and shout encouragement to M, who was in the water with four kids, doing it all. Maybe they had been worn out from ALL THE DAYS ROLLED INTO ONE, but now, they were new creatures, zip-lining, swimming, belly-flopping, and sliding into the huge lake.
In theory, all this craziness would have been a disaster for such tired kids. But thanks to that weird time-lapse trick, they had quadruple the energy. As I stood on the shore (again, so sorry, M), and watched them zip from scaffold to shore, I saw that this was exactly what they needed.
By the time we got home, they were spent. Done. Barely any bedtime-fighting because they just conked out. As I hugged Elisabeth goodnight, she asked, “Was today the first day of school?”
“It was,” I confirmed. “Isn’t that weird?”
“I hope tomorrow is good,” Catie said. “But maybe not so long.”
Me too, sweetie. Me too.

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