I calculate that we have had just about one hundred first day of school moments in my house--that's four children times twenty-five years worth of schooling. Those stomach churning, night-before preparations akin to having one's wisdom teeth pulled. It's the right thing to do but you dread it anyway. It's hard to be circumspect when your baby can drive himself to school in his own car.
"We never had our own cars at seventeen," the others chorused. Yes, the youngest is spoiled, but then again he has to wear the moniker 'my baby' all throughout his adult life.
I was checking my emails when he came into my office the night before the last first day. "I have nothing, no notebooks or anything," he said, somewhat accusingly.
"You said yesterday that all you need is your laptop. I think there's a pen lurking around here somewhere," I said, shifting papers on the desk.
He eyed me like I'd somehow failed the parenting test. He loved being treated like an adult except for the times he loved being treated like a kid. It was up to me to be able to keep the signals straight.
Half an hour later he reappeared. "I did some digging and found some looseleaf paper and last year's binder." He plopped the pieces on my desk, expecting me to assemble them and offering me one last shot at being the mother.
I handed them back to him, "I think you''ve got it covered."
He took them back reluctantly as he peered over my shoulder. "You're on Facebook?"
I froze, remembering very clearly a conversation of a year ago when two of his friend's moms dared to join.
"Um, it's a private group, you know only with the other writers I met at the conference, we critique each other..." I stammered.
"I don't care. I haven't been on Facebook in months. This is what I'm wearing tomorrow," he said.
"Looks great," I smiled as he went back upstairs. Everyone needs reassurances, even super-cool, super-bright seveteen year-olds who rarely look in their rear view mirror.