The kids all started their new schools yesterday.  I had done my due diligence – prepared for every possible contingency.  I filled out forms, took kids to get shots, attended Meet the Teacher Nights and Orientations, asked scores of questions, bought school supplies, made sure they knew how to get to their classrooms.  I even outfitted each kid with exactly one pair of jeans that didn’t have huge holes in the knees.

We prayed.  I cooked them a healthy breakfast, gave them numerous hugs, took their pictures, told them how excited I was for them, that I loved them.

Then I proceeded to feed them to the wolves.
Contingencies are so dang difficult to predict.
I should have told Emma (2nd grade) that in her P.E. class, SALT means stand up, PEPPER means sit down, and GRAPES means gather round.  But I didn’t tell her.  Because I didn’t know that the P.E. teacher uses a food-based vocabulary to give commands.

I should have gone over a host of Spanish words with Seth (4th grade), because Spanish was his rotation on the first day and all the other kids had taken Spanish before and knew how to respond in Spanish when the teacher addressed them in Spanish.  But I didn’t tell him.  Because I don’t know Spanish, or even that he was going to Spanish on his first day.

 I should have had Rob (7th grade) disassemble his huge shrink-wrapped pack of school supplies and stuff as many as possible in his backpack, thereby avoiding the terribly embarrassing scenario of the shrink wrap finally giving way on his way to 5th period and the school supplies spilling all over the hallway.  But I didn’t tell him.  Because I figured that a teacher, at least, would see that he hadn’t been told what to do with his supplies, that he was in a bit of a pickle, and somehow come to his rescue.

 I should have told Kirsten (9th grade) one hundred additional times that she is talented and smart and beautiful and that she will make tons of friends in high school.   And reiterated that the friend-making wouldn’t happen overnight, so she would possibly have been more prepared when she had no one to sit with at lunch and no one to talk to in any of her classes, and she wouldn’t have climbed into the car at the end of the day with tears in her eyes.   But I didn’t tell her.  Because I thought maybe someone would say hi, smile, comment on her cute outfit.

That night, in tears, I beat myself up thinking about all the questions I should have asked, all the people I should have talked to.   But the painful truth is that sending my kids outside of the house will always be difficult, because I will never be able to prepare them for every possible contingency. 

But I can do a few things:  pray for them, cook them a healthy breakfast, hug them, be excited for them, love them.
So when they’re out there amongst the wolves, my kids will know for absolute certain that there is at least one person in this big sometimes scary world who will always be on their side, praying and cheering.   And that they can get through the day until it’s time to come home.
To where someone loves them best of all, no matter what, forever and ever.


P.S. From a smile perspective, it’s a  good thing I took the pictures before school, not afterwards.
P.S.S. Today was the second day of school.  It’s already getting the tiniest bit better.

P.S.S.S. I can’t forget, Caleb, who sill be starting PreK after Labor Day.  I’ll make sure to ask a gazillion questions at Meet the Teacher, but I have a feeling that his first day won’t be quite so complicated.