This unplanned photo bomb makes me laugh.
Eliza nailed it.
However, Henry has a slight creeper/crazed expression in his eyes
that adds something special to the photo.
To me, his eyes say:
"Mom, I'm letting you take this picture as a courtesy.
But seriously, just stop with pictures."
My reply: "NEVER!"
Be still my heart.
Well friends, we survived the first week of school. The moment leading up to the drop off, as well as the back to school preparation, felt big. Even though we've done this before, the range of emotions I feel each year remain mixed and sharp. Here's a brief rundown:
Anxiety fills bellies at bedtime. Tears of apprehension suddenly appear. As parents, we do our best to dispel these feelings with laughter. Once there's a smile, you know it's a safe time to proceed talking through what they're feeling. You focus on the positives; like the new school clothes! I'm sure there are a lot of critics who could tell me why the whole concept of "back to school" clothes is wasteful, superficial, etc. However, seeing their new clothes, patiently waiting in their closet, fresh with the verbal Mom restriction:
You Can't Wear These Until After School Starts!
...adds happiness and excitement to their natural anticipation. Not to mention, it's a scientific fact that children grow what makes shopping a need. So there's that. :)
On the first day of school, putting on their new clothes and shoes gives them an extra surge of confidence. Eliza felt beautiful. Henry knew he looked sharp. He has never wanted a super hero t-shirt. He loves wearing button down shirts with collars. As I'm typing this, I can't help but laugh as an image of Andrew's closet fills my mind. I see two long rows of button down shirts. He truly emulates his Father.
Returning to that morning, I kept my mood pleasant and positive. I watched the clock carefully. Old habits and patterns returned. We prayed together. We read and talked about some scriptures. I made sure we had a healthy cushion of time for photos. Andrew was able to join us for our walk to the school. Having him there is probably more reassuring for me than the kids! As we made our approach, Eliza wanted to hug and kiss me "Goodbye" before we got too close to the school. This didn't break my heart like you may think. She wants to be mature and grown up like her friends. I'm secure in her love for me. The idea of her wanting to limit public affection would have devastated me in the past, but I surprisingly understand where she's coming form. Henry, on the other hand, was happy to let me steal my smooch from him before he ran to greet friends.
Eliza kindly allowed me to walk with her to the fourth grade door. A row of familiar, beautiful faces stood already waiting in line. I recognized each girl. Because of the Chinese program, the mix of students in her class is pretty much the same year after year. I could feel their nervous and excited energy. These girls are good and kind. But for whatever reason, none of them acknowledged Eliza. I watched as she waved and softly whispered her greetings but it went unnoticed. I saw the sudden heart break and panic on her face. I knew that my expression mirrored her own. She desperately began to search for her best friend but she wasn't on the playground yet.
One of the girl's parents took notice of us. I watched as he caught his daughter's attention and whispered a quick something to her. Two seconds later, this friend bounced out of line and over to Eliza. With animation she welcomed her and invited her to join her. The man then suggested:
"Hey! Can I get a picture of you together?" And just like that, Eliza had a friend. She was fine. His small act of kindness meant the world to me. I was so touched. I could feel my composure fading so I gave Eliza a final wave and returned to Henry's line where Andrew was waiting.
As I relayed the story to him, I burst into tears. I was kicking myself for forgetting my sunglasses as my emotional state of crazy was obvious to the parents around me. I was comforted to see Henry happily engaging his friends. I realized once again how unique children are. The concerns I have for both of them are so different from the other. The bell rang. It was time to shake off the crazy, walk home with my younger kids and then call my Mom (so I could cry some more).
I hesitated whether or not to share this experience because its personal to Eliza. However, the week has a happy ending because she had a very positive social experience each day. The first ten minutes were rough but from what she's shared with me since, she has plenty of good friends. I am so happy and grateful. Also, I want to remember this man's thoughtfulness.
Yesterday, Eliza and I went to pick up her new glasses. I decided to leave the radio off so we could more easily converse. I was delighted as she shared detail after new detail about her first week of school. Even though I quiz her each day, she was in the proper mood to share and we were free of distractions. It was a blessing to bond like this and reminded me that more often not, the most important conversations happen on their own. Henry has also been very positive. It's fun hearing the great feedback on their teachers, the lunch time report and other tidbits.
The week as a whole was emotionally and physically exhausting. Not to mention, Andrew was traveling for work for two nights which impacted my sleep. But really, I can't complain because they are happy and doing well. I feel very thankful for that.