“Auntie Kiss, it’s the first day of school!”
These words were fairy godson’s greeting to me this morning, when I arrived at his house to help walk with him on his very first day of school ever.
As in, it will never happen again, EVER.
It’s probably a good thing that Practical Man and I don’t have any children.
I don’t think the Kleenex industry could handle it.
Never mind that my heart has a tendency to plummet its beats per minute, without warning, and make me faint. Yes, my biological heart is a drama queen. But, my metaphorical heart is also kind of high maintenance. I’m the person who cries during every Downton Abbey and Little House on the Prairie episode. I can’t get through a whole verse when I’m singing the song that reminds me of Ugly Orange Sweater Guy’s mom. I even get weepy at TV commercials (there was one when I lived in England, 30 years ago, that still makes me choke up.)
Suffice it to say, we go through a lot of Kleenex around here. The extra-strength kind.
Yet, somehow, I manage to forget this fact from one minute to the next. I run around in life, completely un-prepared, when it comes to mopping up my emotions. The 3-ply Tempo tissues from Germany that I bring pillow-sized packages of back, every time I visit, are piled neatly in the hall linen cupboard. Practical Man buys the bulk boxes of Kleenex so we’re never, ever out. I even have some lovely vintage handkerchiefs but, they are not tucked into the wrist of my sweater set, like they should be (in 1952).
Fat lot of good all this preparation and stockpiling does me when my eyelashes runneth over (as they do multiple times daily).
Case in point: I turned up this morning and there was Fairy Godson, aged 4 years and 32 seconds, looking cute as a button for his first day of school. Immediately, I realized that I Was In Trouble.
Double decker doo-doo kind of trouble.
If ever there was a day to carry on-board swaths of cloth for the mopping up of my eyelashes, today was it.
So, I distracted myself by helping his parents take the requisite First Day of School photos on the front steps and then, Fairy Godson and I headed to the back yard so he could open his “Schultuette”. This is basically a giant cone (the closer the cone is in size to the child, the better) that is a tradition for a child’s first time s/he goes to school, in Germany. As my former German exchange partner said, “I’m surprised it hasn’t caught on in other countries. It’s great for kids and also for commerce”.
We can’t buy ready-made Schultuette here (but, this could be my million dollar business idea #823, ho ho!) so, Practical Man and I wielded the trusty packing tape gun and with some grunting and contortions, managed to fashion a piece of bristol board that I had cut, into some semblance of a giant cone, in which to put treats and school supplies.
A few M&Ms. A couple of gumdrops. Some jelly dinosaurs (a “Stegosaurus – that’s the one with the points on his back, Auntie Kiss”.) Crayons. Stamp markers. Pencil case. Frog and Ladybug magnets to hang artwork on the fridge. Mini chocolate bars.
If my stolen idea from Germany catches on here, may I suggest one minor variation to the Canadian version of a Schultuette? Ours should have treats and school supplies and TISSUES for the Auntie Kisses in the crowd.
After all the treasures were discovered and Kite Papa gave Fairy Godson permission to taste one M&M and a jelly Stegosaurus from one of the treat bags in the Schultuette, we headed off for school.
I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Fairy Godson wasn’t sure what to expect either, since he was only born three weeks ago, by my count, but he was running at the beginning of the journey, so I’m pretty sure he knew that whatever was coming his way, it would be lots of fun.
In the schoolyard, it appeared to be controlled chaos. Kids and parents everywhere. Giant backpacks on impossibly small-ish people and water bottles and teachers wearing name tags. It was loud and busy and I felt as if I’d stepped inside the pages of a Richard Scarry “Busy Day” book (without the piglet firefighters).
I’m 47 and a half years old, not to mention 5’9″ and not waif-like. I am pretty much built for handling a crowd.
Fairy Godson, on the other hand, is only 2 months old.
Anyway, he is small and sweet and was wearing a ginormous backpack that contained all the things he needed for his very first (never happening again, EVER!) day of school:
His water bottle.
A sweatshirt, in case it gets cool.
His “inside” shoes. (Apparently, this has not changed since I went to kindergarten some 43 years ago. Perilous the child without indoor shoes!)
And a partridge in a pear tree.
Why not? Christmas is already happening in Costco, after all. It’s only a matter of time before it ends up in kindergarten backpacks on the first day of school.
Fairy Godson’s Kite Mama pointed out some of his neighbourhood friends and friends from his daycare, too. He was quieter now, looking around and holding his parents’ hands and taking things in. It was very, very busy and hot and loud and all kind of new and strange, if you ask me.
Meanwhile, I was inwardly fuming. I couldn’t believe they didn’t let the parents (and Auntie Kisses) stay for the first week or few months. Y’know, just to get everyone used to things, like how my heart is probably breaking and fainting because for goodness sakes, Fairy Godson is just a baby!
Look how small his shoes are and his little hat.
I was without tissues and I had turned into a helicopter Auntie Kiss.
The time came for Madame to lead Fairy Godson and his classmates into the school. I took a deep breath and followed along at a distance. And then, it happened. This was the moment where Fairy Godson had second thoughts. He clung to his parents and turned his face away from the red, brick school that he had talked about, with such excitement, all summer long. He cried all the way into the school with Madame. I cried right along with him.
We’re kindred spirits, y’know. That’s how fairy godmother-ing works.
Believe it or not, there was NO volunteer handing out tissues (or therapy) to the parents and Auntie Kisses at the door.
Heartless, heartless, education system.
I can say that, because I’m part of it. I work at a university. In fact, it’s my turn for the first day back, tomorrow.
Of course, I won’t have any tissues.