Well, the start of 7th grade felt a lot different than all the other first days. First, Ethan did not pop eagerly out of bed and bound downstairs. No, I had to call him three times before he even said his first, "Yeah, I'm coming." And then it was 15 more minutes before he came down and went to sleep in the big chair with the ottoman.
I went through the motions of taking his breakfast order even though he never eats a bite on the first day of school--or any other time when he's excited or nervous. Today, however, once he finally woke up enough to request a toaster waffle, he gobbled it down in under a minute just like any other morning. Then he left his plate and chocolate milk glass on the table, like he always does (not that I expected him to magically pick up his plate without being told just because it was the first day of school).
There was just a hint of that lost little boy from Kindergarten when I actually dropped him off. He stayed in the car until the last possible moment, when I had to push him out or risk the wrath of the SUV driver behind me.
"Some of the other parents are helping their kids carry in supplies," he noted as he wrestled his band instrument out of the back seat and shouldered his backpack and paper grocery bag of supplies.
"You don't really want me to walk you in on the first day of 7th grade, do you?"
"No. You'll pick me up at 3:40?"
I wanted to watch him to make sure he made it in safely, but the lady in the SUV was getting antsy. (I'm not sure how I knew this; I just sensed it somehow.) Anyway, I pulled through the turnaround and patted myself on the back when I saw that the drop-off line was now literally a half a mile long. What a huge difference five or ten minutes makes!
Allyson and I arrived about 20 minutes early this afternoon, but not early enough to secure a spot in the pickup line. We parked in the parking lot with the car running, and I tried to read my book club book (Shadow of the Wind) while Allyson climbed all over the car and all over me, all the while peppering me with questions about everything under the sun.
At 3:40 on the dot, a flood of adolescents surged out of the doors. We got out of the car and milled around the lot, hoping to spot Ethan somehow. One woman about my age hollered, "Austin! AUSTINNN!" literally about 30 times, and since my back was to her, I allowed myself a smirk. "I bet Austin is hiding in the bathroom," I thought.
I wanted to yell for Ethan myself, but that would have been even more mortifying than helping him carry in his supplies. Allyson, however, had no such compunction. She started bellowing, "Ethan! ETHANNN!" in an astonishingly loud voice--the same one she uses when she "sings" Are We There Yet?, which I wish she had never heard on the Noggin channel.
"When there was no response, she edged closer to the pickup line and screamed, "ETHANNN! We're here to pick you u-up!" She happened to be standing just outside the open window of an old beater, and she yelled right in the ear of the teenage driver. I grabbed Allyson's arm and smiled apologetically, but the girl just smiled and laughed.
We huddled in the shade of the only available tree while Allyson and the clueless mother shrieked a chorus of "Austin! Ethan! Austin! Ethan!" Meanwhile, I could feel sweat running down behind my sticky knees as the minutes ticked past.
At last, I spotted Ethan and his friend Tin. Ethan was glaring at us. "Ethan! We're here to pick you up," Allyson shouted once more for good measure.
"I KNOW! I heard you five minutes ago."
"Then why didn't you come over here?" I demanded.
"We had to fight our way through the crowd."
"Well, get in the car and we'll go for ice cream," I urged. We always go for ice cream on the first day of school.
During the 15 minutes it took to get out of the lot and down the street, I learned that:
- Ethan's math teacher is really mean--starting tomorrow.
- The athletics coaches are very, very mean.
- The school is HUGE!
- The lunch line took 20 minutes, but it didn't matter because they get A WHOLE HOUR for lunch!
- Ethan couldn't get down the halls because all his friends from intermediate school kept stopping him every few feet.
The Ice Cream
So we finally arrived at Woolley's around 4:15. Surprisingly the line was much shorter than in other years, so we had to make a snap decision regarding the dizzying array of topping choices.
Here are Ethan and Tin, in deep concentration:
Well, they were actually contemplating the marked resemblance between the fresh frozen custard spurting out of the freezer and...
...What do YOU think it looks like?
Anyway, Ethan ended up ordering a chocolate frozen custard with Oreos and a cherry on top. I was shocked that he didn't order his usual gummy bears; is middle school already maturing him?
I agonized over my... I mean Allyson's frozen custard. "Chocolate!" she asserted.
"She'll have a small chocolate with..." I couldn't think because Allyson was tugging my leg and yelling "Sprinkles! Sprinkles! I want sprinkles!"
"A small chocolate with peanut butter sauce and sprinkles," I said at last.
I'm pretty sure she liked it. What do you think?
Can you see the sprinkle booger in her left nostril?
I liked it, too. But I only ate a couple bites. Or maybe it was 10.
All in all, it was a very nice first day of school, aside from the fact that, just as I was returning at 7:00 from the parents' meeting for athletics, Ethan greeted me with a frantic, "I need running shoes not my basketball shoes and I need two spirals and a composition book!"
My unbelievably considerate husband rushed him to Academy and Office Depot, and he would have been asleep by 9:00 had he not been regaling me with stories of forgotten locker combinations and other first day stories. I think he needs to start his own blog.