Today was my girls’ last day of school. Allyson’s last day of first grade, and the final day of Kate’s kindergarten year, her introduction to the world of schooling.
Today I got them up and ready. I reminded Allyson that this was the last time for many days that she would have get out of bed at seven o’clock in the morning, my little lazy girl. Today I chatted with a happy Katey while I showered and she sat on the bathroom floor, talking about nothing much, but happily talking all the same. (This little one is so like her mom.)
After breakfast and a rush to get all the things they would need, like the posters they had made for their teachers, and their sweaters and the school-appropriate footwear, we rushed out of the house. Normally, I get the girls to school early. One of them in the morning, and the other after lunch. But we’re always — I mean, always — early. Just ask my husband, who rolls his eyes and wonders why on earth I leave the house 30 minutes before school when it takes a scant 6 or 7 minutes to drive there. Not today. This is the day, the first day and the last, that we get to school after the bell rings at 8:30. I walk in with both my girls — I need to reclaim Allyson’s inhaler from the nurse’s office — and I walk out with only Kate, having pushed my eldest into the hallway so she wouldn’t be counted as late on her last day of first grade.
Then Kate and I run a few errands. We pay a bill. (In person, at the office, because, ironically, though I’m always early when going somewhere, I can’t seem to plan ahead enough to mail in the payments to local places, like the township office and the water company.) Then we run to the grocery store for the week’s food. And I get talking to some friends I’ve made there over the years. And I take my time. Until I remember that today Kate is due at school almost 2 hours earlier than normal because they have early dismissal.
So, once again today I deliver my child in the nick of time to her last day of school. It feels so strange to be at the very end of the kindergarten drop-off line of cars. The very last car. I had visions of spending time talking about it being her last day, and smiling and laughing … But the reality is that I grab my camera and snap a quick picture while I nearly push her out of the car onto the curb and wave goodbye.
Things have not happened today quite the way I had pictured. But, in the end, the girls got to school. And I took a ride. We have a new van, you see. (It’s new to us and I revel in the luxury of this new seven-year-old van.) And I drive among my favorite hills and farms. It’s not very far from our house, but it’s far enough that I feel as though I’ve escaped, as I turn up the volume so I can really hear the music (The Kings Singers singing Beatles songs) and I’m a happy mom. I know that I have about an hour before I have to get to the bus stop and pick up my girls who are coming home for the summer, and I enjoy every moment. The scenery is stunning. Coming to the top of a hill and seeing the green farms reaching across the valley below makes me wish I had the nerve to stop along the side of the road and take pictures. But I keep driving because my time alone is limited and it’s coming to an end.
It’s funny, because, though I’m relishing my time to myself, time to drive and to crank up my music, I’m not at all dreading it being over. I’m not wishing away the girls who will be waiting for me at the other end. I’m absolutely looking forward to spending time with them. Time that will be abundant, and probably fraught with some petty arguments, and some whining, and some boredom. Still, I look forward to the days ahead because we’ll be spending them reestablishing our rhythm together and getting a better idea who we’ve each become since last summer.
I get the girls off the bus, camera in hand, and snap one picture as someone walks right in front of one of my kids. So much for the candid, getting-off-the-bus-on-the-last-day-of-school, action shot. Oh well. My very next move is to nudge my child out of the street (so as to keep her from being run over by the car that was waiting for the bus to get out of his way) and she falls and scrapes her knee. Happy summer, girls! … Really not how I (nor she, for that matter) imagined this part of the day going. But she’s a good sport as she limps to the car.
And we finish out the day with little else in the way of drama, though we do several celebratory, end-of-school-type things before getting them ready for bed. Then we read from several books I’ve chosen in hopes of whetting their appetites, and pray and kiss them and walk out of their room. All in all, a successful if not picture perfect last day of school.
It was a good day.