3. If you forget something, it’s okay if the school calls you. “Mrs. Paulus, what would you like Sarah to eat for lunch, because she has a shiny new Batman Begins lunch box but nothing inside it? Will you be dropping off her lunch?” Or better yet, the year I got the call when Lydia first started school: “Mrs. Paulus, your daughter ate her lunch for snack. Now she has no lunch. What would you like to do?”
My point is, sometimes the school will call to tell you there’s a problem. Usually a minor one, because by law, they’re kind of obligated to tell you and ask you if you’d like to fix it. Not all schools work this way, but when the call comes, even if it’s on the first day, don’t panic. You haven’t been black-listed. Yet. It takes some three-peats and accumulated frequent fails to get on the list. I should know. I’m pretty sure I’m on it. Which brings me to my fourth point:
4. It’s okay to mess up as a parent. Even miss the bus on the first day. Which my first two did. But my second two didn’t. That makes me a 50-percent success story on the first day (though I claim 100 percent, since the only reason my first two missed the bus was this mommy wanted to help Daughter No. 1 with her hair, and these things take time—curling irons are not meant to run through your hair at the same speed as a hairbrush). And getting dropped off on the first day of school means you get to see the principal sporting his first-day-of-school kilt. Which I was disappointed to see he didn’t have on. “Don’t worry,” Mr. Hogan assured me. “I’ll bring it out on the really special days.” Which brings me to my last and final point:
5. Every day is a really special day when you’re given one more opportunity to parent. And it’s a learning process, for both your children and you. For all the how-to books out there on raising children, I’ve yet to see the perfect parent’s manual published. At least not one that actually winds it down to a science. Because parenting, heck life, does not boil down to a formula.
But…if I were to propose a recipe for a mostly successful first day of school, I’d include: • A spoonful of patience, two for good measure • A cup of hugs and kisses, or two or three (no limit, really) • Words of encouragement, because you can always tell them what to do when they come home from school • A send-off song, because music makes everything better! (For the record, Hubs chose the baw baw chick chick chicka song from the credits roll of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off fame…oh, yeah.) • Grace—for you and your kids. Nobody’s perfect, and grace reminds us that we’re all a work in progress—and that second chances, third, and 50th chances are okay. It’s not about the peak. To quote a Miley Cyrus song (because one stupid act doesn’t erase all she has contributed along the way), “It’s the climb.” Best part, no one climbs alone. We’re in it together. Definitely the best part.