I have three kids and today they all went to school, the smallest one for the very first time. You already know that, though, because you're omniscient. Now that the big yellow bus has consumed my children, I'm sitting here alone in a quiet house, trying to distract myself with work and Facebook. It's sort of working, except for the fact that my stupid eyes keep leaking.
God, I really wish I was one of the moms skipping back from the bus stop humming "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year." I thought when this time finally came, I would be. But I don't feel like celebrating. There was no skipping home. I spent the whole time trying not to ugly cry in front of my neighbors, so I just kept making a weird face and sniffling.
I need to ask you for some things for this coming school year, because while my kids are ready for it -- I'm not. My husband is being sweet and supportive and keeps telling me how great everything is going to be, but I can't help being a little sad about the fact that my babies are now big kids. I love them so much and they're out there in the world now. I can't protect them and I'm trying not to freak out about that.
Please God, keep them safe from the following:
- Mean kids who might single them out.
- Feeling all alone on the playground (once in a while is OK, but please not every day).
- Having a teacher who doesn't like them and makes them feel bad about themselves.
- Any virus that causes vomiting.
- Crazy people with guns.
- Classmates who like to experiment with things they're not actually ready for.
- Bus accidents.
- Head lice.
- Not making it to the bathroom on time.
- Serial sex offenders who somehow managed to evade the school district's stringent criminal background check policies and get a job where they have access to kids.
- Forgetting how awesome they already are and trying to be like someone else.
And please, help them to:
- Be nice to everyone, especially those people who could use some extra niceness.
- Remember their stuff because last year they forgot everything always.
- Learn how to ask for help if they don't understand something.
- Be respectful and appreciative of their school and all the people who work there.
- Try to pay attention and not stare at a spot on the wall for 40 minutes when they get bored.
- Care about learning. Their teachers and their dad and I can do a lot, but we can't make them care.
- Tell me about their days and what's going on, especially the boy. Based on what he told me last year, if I didn't watch him get on the bus in the morning and get off the bus in the afternoon, I wouldn't even know he went to school.
- Try hard and have a good attitude. We care a lot more about that than we do about their grades.
- Make real friends. Even if it's only one or two. Friends who lift them up and never push them down.
That last thing? That's a quote I stole from one of my friends. Thank you for them, by the way. They are a huge blessing and I'm grateful for them every day. They're helping me raise these kids and they're keeping me out of the Nervous Hospital. But you already know that.
Please keep all of our babies safe this year. Please let them feel just enough fear and embarrassment and awkwardness that it makes them funny and compassionate, but not so much that it leaves lasting scars. Please let them have some moments that are really, really awesome. When crappy things happen, help them find a lesson in it. And lastly, please don't let them get so big this year that they no longer want to snuggle with me on the couch, because that would break my heart forever. I just need a few more years of couch snuggles and I might be able to handle high school.
Julianna W. Miner has three kids, ages 5, 9 and 11. She teaches at a college she couldn't have gotten into because she made bad choices in high school. Her blog is Rants from Mommyland, where this post originally appeared.