Last Thursday our family began an unfamiliar but exciting new journey: all three kids started school together on the same campus.
You can imagine the chaos that might ensue, just knowing us in general, on the first day of school when not only all of the kids need to be dressed, lunches packed, bags ready, and water bottles set to go by 7:30a.m., but Mom also needs to be fully dressed, contacts in, hair brushed (and best to have teeth brushed too) for chapel, which is how the school year begins each fall. (The word "fall" is used loosely here, as it is still 105o most days.) I did not anticipate AT ALL how long it would take for all of us to get ready, to get the lunches packed, and get out the door, and we were very unfortunately late for the chapel. I have a hard time asking for help (which is stupid), so even though Mike was asking how he could help, since I had never done this before, I was struggling to let him know how he could be useful. I ended up talking to him on the phone on my way to the church because even with all my effort, I still did not get the lunches completely packed, and I realized once in the car that Christian did not have his belt on, nor did he have his bookbag.
I called Mike again when we were leaving the church to head over to the campus (the process of which did buy me a little time, since the entire school was doing the same thing) so that he could meet us there with all the stuff that we had left behind. Once he had dropped off the kids' things, I walked them across the parking lot and to their classrooms. Christian went straight to his room, confidently and happily; for this I am grateful. Michaela and I walked Eliana to her classroom, helped her get her bag and lunch box stored, gave her a kiss goodbye, and left so that her teacher could get on with her morning. Michaela and I headed over to the part of campus where we thought she was supposed to be. Sadly, at this point we did not know where the copy of her schedule was. She thought she had given it to me the day before, when we had been on campus for an event for fifth- through eighth-graders. I couldn't find it in my purse, which was the logical place for me to have put it if I had indeed had it. I was frustrated, but trying not to freak out.
We opened the door to a classroom which we believed might be her homeroom, but were greeted by an entire classroom of eyes staring and a teacher who stopped mid-sentence and looked at us silently. I smiled nervously (seriously, it was like I myself was in middle school again), and said,"Is she supposed to be in here?" The teacher said, not unkindly, but very matter-of-factly,"No, because she's not taking Latin."
Alllllrighty then. I shut the door quietly, and looked at Michaela, who looked at me. I said,"Well. That was a little like the nightmare when you're giving a speech in your underwear. At least we have clothes on!" She laughed and agreed, and we left the building to find someone who might be able to help us.
Like a beautiful beacon of light, coming toward us was the director of her school (the Logic School, or the four middle grades...the whole school is divided into three schools: Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric). Clearly we were lost, and he kindly stopped to help us. We told him that we did not have Michaela's schedule (it should have stayed taped to her locker...oops), and that we had no idea where she was supposed to be. He began walking us to where he believed she ought to be, and told us he would look up her schedule and get her a new copy soon. We walked across the campus and neared the building which houses the Humanities classes and the gymnasium. A group of girls came around the corner and one of them called out,"Michaela!"
Oh! This heart of mine leaped for joy! When your 13-year-old daughter is going to not just a new school, but to school for the first time, and another young lady sees her and treats her like an old friend, like she was waiting for her to show up?! This was one of the highlights of the day for me. This girl and a couple of others took Michaela right along with them, saying,"We'll take her where she needs to go!" I looked at the director as they got a little farther away, with tears in my eyes, and expressed my relief and gratitude. I headed to the car soon after that, and once I was in there all by myself, I burst into tears.
Then I found Michaela's schedule in the front seat. She had been sitting on it. Of course.
I got myself together and tried to trot discreetly back over to her locker area, hoping to run into her and slip her the schedule without making too much of a scene. I was successful in delivering the paper to her quickly, and then I headed to the car once more. And cried.
Most people might think that my tears had a great deal to do with the fact that all of the kids were starting school, and of course I would be emotional. Quite honestly it had nothing to do with that. I cried because of all the things that had gone wrong. It felt like a lot. On top of all the other small things from the morning, Eliana had gone to school without her tie, which is a part of her uniform that she must wear every day. We only have one set (two ties that button under her collar on the shoulders and then cross over in the front to form a sailor sort of tie). I knew that I had washed it along with all of the other dark uniform pieces but I had no recollection of taking it out of the dryer. Everything else was hanging in the laundry room: the skirts, the sweaters, the shorts, the shirts. The tie had disappeared. I just knew the washer had eaten it.
Wednesday, when I realized the tie was missing, I asked Mike to take the machine apart to see if it had managed to slip outside of the barrel somehow, or down under the agitator. He took the front off, and he removed the agitator. No tie. I was distraught. Where was that tie?!
At any rate, now it was Thursday, the kids were all in class, and I needed to get home and look for the derelict accessory. I arrived to a quiet, empty house. Searching for the tie should have been an easy task, and one might wonder why it was giving me such trouble. Adding to our normal amount of chaos was the flooring project. Ah, yes. On top of doing all that we needed to do in order to get ready for starting at a new school, we were also dealing with the turning upside-down of our house. All the clothes and furniture that go upstairs had been moved downstairs, either into our bedroom, or all the way down into the back room. It would be an understatement to say that at that point my laundry was in an unusual state.
Do you know me? Under normal circumstances I have problems with controlling my laundry. This flooring project has proven to offer me extra opportunities to mismanage unruly clean clothes. So it was with a sigh of reluctant determination that I began to pull articles of clothing from the top of my giant pile, fold them, and set them aside. As I took something from the center of the pile, I saw a small pile of school clothes which had been buried beneath a couple of other loads: two of Michaela's P.E. shirts, Eliana's modesty shorts, and her tie. Folded. Right there in the middle of all the clean clothes. Exactly. Where. I. Had. Put. Them.
I fell into the floor and heaved and sobbed harder than I have in a long time.
Do you know that feeling when you have tried so hard to get it all right, when you have run all the errands, bought all the pencils and the notebooks and the binders and the socks and the shorts and the hairbows, and washed it up, or packed it up, and you still...get it...wrong? Oh, that is where I had found myself. Falling so short after trying so hard. I called myself some names (making Mike take apart the washer, for goodness' sake), bawled and squeezed my hands into fists under my shoulders as I lay curled in a ball on the floor in between my giant laundry pile and the mattress on the floor.
I cried for all the crazy that morning, I cried for failing, and then I cried some more because I realized that Michaela didn't have her P.E. shirt (she didn't need it that day anyway, but I didn't know that), and because I hadn't even thought about Eliana's shorts (hopefully she didn't turn any cartwheels the first day of school). And then I stopped. That was that. There was nothing I could do about all of the things that had gone wrong. So I got up, and just decided to go about the rest of the day.
And the rest of the day was just fine.
And so we continue to adjust to the changes. We have been busy, and happy.
Until time to do homework.
But really...mostly happy.