Thursday, August 25, 2005

Fielder’s Choice
By Barry Burleson

School days

I’m pretty sure it’s the first first day of school I’ve missed.

I’ve had a part in each first day for each of my children - first through eighth for Emma, first through fifth for Andy.

That wasn’t always going with them on the first day, but I was around, the night before and the hectic first morning. I was there to cherish the memories.

I think Emma’s first day of kindergarten was the toughest. She had been in a wonderful daycare since she was a few months old, and then suddenly she was embarking on “real school.”

Last week, August 18, I had to be out of town on Mississippi Press Association business, and that was the first day of school, postponed a week due to some new classroom construction.

Unfortunately, it was the first day of school ever for our youngest, our “surprise child.” Erin started 3K.

I told Pam, “I can’t believe it. I never thought we would have three children in school.”

Emma is a freshman (high school, wow), and Andy is starting the sixth grade.

Of course that means I’m getting older. By the way, I have a birthday today (Thursday, Aug. 25). It’s number 44. That’s unbelievable, but that’s another story.

Erin was so excited about that first day. I’m sorry I missed it, but Pam took a photo for the memory book of the three of them together at home that morning.

Erin had been talking about going to school for weeks. She’d been wanting to buy her school supplies for weeks.

The Sunday night before the first day she wanted Pam to go ahead and pack her lunch. We tried to explain that the first day was still several days away. She didn’t understand. She wanted to fix her lunch, right then.

Our biggest problem was trying to adapt her to a a new sleeping schedule for school.

She’s a night owl. She fights going to sleep.

We had to get her 11 p.m. bedtime changed to about 9 p.m. and her waking up time changed from 8:30 or 9 to 7.

And we’re still working on it.

Anyway, Pam went with her the first day. I think Erin did some clinging - new surroundings, other parents, children, and so forth.

The second day was mine. I was back in town, and this time I drove all three to school.

I accompanied Erin to the room, with more supplies, book bag, lunch, etc.

Pam was worried how she’d do. I was, too. I didn’t exactly know how I would handle it if my baby girl started crying.

I walked to a back room to carry her sleeping mat.

She stopped in the front, sat down and started working a puzzle.

I walked back by, said bye and blew her a kiss. She said bye and returned the kiss.

And that was that.

Whew! I breathed a sigh of relief, but almost cried myself.

She had a great second day, and at this early stage, she’s loving school, particularly the playground.

Even at open house this past Monday night, she wanted to go play on the playground.

She’s constantly talking about her new friends and her new teachers.

So, a new part of the Burlesons’ life has begun - one child almost driving, another a year away from junior high and already begging for a cell phone and a third who just passed the potty training stage and started to school.

It seems like a week ago when Emma was 3. She’s 14.

It seems like yesterday when Andy was 3. He’s 11.

I’ve written before about the importance of spending time with family. I need the lesson more and more myself - particularly now.

They’re growing up too fast, and they say I’m getting old.

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