20 August 2007

One week

They go back to school in one week.

Uniforms? $800. The son needed a whole new wardrobe. Everything. Men's shirts. Men's trousers.

The daughter wears a uniform skirt now rather than a jumper, and can wear a sweater shell rather than a Peter Pan collar blouse. She lost six inches of hair yesterday and fluffs her new bob with tremendous pleasure.

We already covered shoes.

School supplies cost me $300 this year. This doesn't cover the book lists, which I haven't gotten yet, or the cost of the daughter's outdoor education trip coming up in a month or so ($600).

Where did my babies go?

Sending them to school--letting them out of my sight--was traumatic enough. The son was 2 1/2 when he started preschool ($800/month). Our neighborhood had no children for him to play with, so preschool became the alternative to give him some kid time a couple of times per week. He loved it. I cried.

The daughter didn't go to school at all until she started Junior Kindergarten (I learn. Developmental preschool didn't exactly cut it for the son, so the daughter went to an academic program, which suited her perfectly). She was 4 1/2, and so ready for school, so excited ($8,000/year).

The month before she started school, I felt the stirrings of panic. I would be at home--ALONE--once she started. I decided to go back to work, and got a cat ($110 adoption fees, $300 for treatment of subsequent medical problems. And that was just the first week we had him).

But those planes hit the WTC a week after the daughter made her triumphant entry into the school world and turned everything upside down. I traded in office plans for two more years of room mother duties and freelancing ($200 out of pocket for parties per year, not at all offset by freelancing income).

It salved the kids' psyche and mine. I was close by, often on campus. It gave us all a sense of security, even the spouse.

Even now, when I hear sirens near their school--because I'm only 4 blocks away--I will hop on my bike and make sure the sirens aren't at their school.

When they go back next week, it will be the first time in a while that I won't head into the office after I drop them off. I will return to the very quiet house and the cat. I don't cry anymore, but I miss them. I know they don't miss me, and I know they are moving inexorably further away with each year, day, hour. They are meant to, and it's ok.

But I miss them.

And I'll never tell them that (box of Kleenex, $2.50. I lied).

Because raising these people I love and of whom I'm so proud is priceless.

Go listen to some good music: "One Week" from the album Stunt by The Barenaked Ladies.