September 4, 2012

First day of school

Everywhere I look on Facebook today, I see pictures of smiling children in neat pigtails, grinning at the camera and wearing spanking-new backpacks. Some of the kids are even holding signs, indicating their grade. They are neat, combed, clean, pressed, and ready for action.

This leads to the obvious question: how is it that all of these parents have time on the first morning of school to line the little scholars up and snap a picture? How is that possible?

You know what my morning looked like today? Lilah wanted oatmeal with raisins for breakfast until she decided she wanted half a grilled cheese. Then Zachary wanted peanut butter and jelly, which he eats in his room while reading a book. I packed up snacks, shoveled down breakfast, and took turns showering. Jacob was long-gone for work by the time I woke Benjamin up, which I had to do because he was UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF with first-day jitters. Benjamin, like his sister, wanted grilled cheese, which is all well and good except it was a full hour after we’d made hers so it was a whole new process all over again.

Then Ben was eating breakfast and I was washing the griddle and suddenly Lilah remembered: “Oh, I forgot to put on underwear.” She remembered the tiara, but forgot her underwear.

Do you know how many teeth I had to oversee the brushing of today? Me neither, since I can’t really keep track of how many teeth reside in each mouth at any given time. But I know I did have to make sure two heads of hair were brushed, one into pigtails. I never bother with all three heads, figuring two out of three ain’t bad. Today was extra special, as Benjamin made sure to slick down his hair with water, in the process soaking the sink. Only one child actually made the bed today, and I find it telling of the state of affairs around here that it was the four-year-old who made her bed while the boys never quite got around to it.

I did make sure that there were eight shoes applied to the appropriate feet, that rain jackets were in the stroller for the walk, and that all the school supplies and forms we’d laid out last night actually made it out the door. I was pretty damned proud of myself for accomplishing all this by 7:50 in the morning. But taking pictures? Lining my kids up to take pictures? There’s no fucking way.

Every year, the night before school starts, I think maybe this will be the year that I have everyone ready five extra minutes early so we can snap a picture. And each year we’re halfway to school before I even realize that yet another first day has passed without a picture. I could stop all three kids to take a picture right then and there, but chances are if I did, Zach would whine that Ben was looking at him, Lilah would want to pick a flower, and Ben would take off in pursuit of an ant or a wildebeast or something.

So, I ask you, oh you organized souls who’ve already posted those smiling, backpacked children on Facebook, how do you do it? How do you get three kids ready for the first day and still find time to take the picture? And next year will you come to my house?

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  • Reply jen September 4, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    I always take a first day picture but I make sure to do it OUTSIDE because the inside of my house looks like crazy people live there. Crazy messy people.

  • Reply WendyElissa September 4, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    I always take my important day pictures as we leave the house. Even if we’re rushing and late I spare one minute for a quick smile in the driveway which is why most of my pictures on facebook are in the driveway. But I only have one or two kids at a time to take a picture of , three would be a bit more difficult, I’m sure.

  • Reply Jennifer September 4, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    It’s been years since we’ve taken a first-day photo because what kind of parent would I be if they were tardy on the first day of school? And they totally would be.

    *That’s what school pictures are for.*

  • Reply Stephanie September 4, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    I cheated and took ours on the “meet your class” day, where they go for an hour a day or two before school actually starts. I could never get pictures taken on the first day, either. But I also cheated and started our school morning routine a full two weeks before school actually started. Last year we were embarrassingly late for preschool every day, and this year I am determined that I will not be THAT mom. Of course it’s only labor day, and we’ve only been going for two weeks. Ask me in November how that endeavor is going.

  • Reply Deena September 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    I never get around to it either … that’s what Mike is for. He usually snaps candids in front of the school.

  • Reply Issa September 4, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    I’ve never managed it. I’m thinking maybe they secretly do it the day before??

  • Reply Anjali September 4, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    My kids are on the front porch, just about to start walking. While they look nice and neat, I’m still in my pajama, grouchy from not drinking my tea yet, hair sticking up everywhere. That’s what it’s like behind the camera when kids leave for school at 7:15 AM.

  • Reply fiwa September 4, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    I can’t believe Lilah is four! Jeez… it seems like you were just announcing that you were pregnant a few months ago!

    Hey, they all made it out of the door alive, dressed (at least partially) with lunch provisions and knowing that they are loved. That’s really all that matters.

  • Reply Heather September 4, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    I take photos every year. <> Even for preschool. In front of the same tree in the yard. My oldest just had his “first day of school” photo taken for the 10th time! I can brush 5 sets of teeth, make 7 different breakfasts, pack 4 lunchs and have everyone ready because the bus always comes late on the first day. Because of all those parents who take the dang photo at the bus!! After that, we’ll always be late!

    Boy’s hair is so easy! And girl’s hair is easy until they care. Putting in beautiful french braids on my youngest is far less time (and energy) consuming than my elder daughter who leaves looking like no one has touched her hair in a month, even though I spent time brushing out knots, fighting over accessories, etc.

    You will share disney stories, right? I’m sure you’ll have some good stuff!

  • Reply Poker Chick September 4, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    I’m sitting here thinking the same thing as you people who were able to brush your kid’s hair!

  • Reply magpie September 5, 2012 at 12:08 am

    hmm. i did it on the first day of kindergarten. that was 4 years ago. maybe i’ll get my act together tomorrow. it doesn’t help that i leave the house before she does, though.

  • Reply kayak woman September 5, 2012 at 1:27 am

    I have some random 1st day of school photos around. Back when my kids were going to school in the early 1990s, all we had was a film camera. If I had had my iPhone back then, I think I would’ve taken bunches of photos of the the kids and probably all of the dysfunctionality that happened before I walked them over to the school in our backyard.

  • Reply catherine September 5, 2012 at 2:35 am

    Here is my four-step success plan.
    1. I only have 2 kids.
    2. One of them sleeps in his next-day clothes pretty much every night.
    3. The other one is 10 years old and we already had the fight about how short her shorts were the night before.
    4. We brought all the school supplies to school last week. There were no photos because I was totally frantic that night and my kids ate pizza samples and ice cream sandwiches for dinner.

  • Reply Melanie September 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    I have two kids and a niece who arrives the first day already dressed (though I feed her breakfast)… I think my advantage is that school doesnt start for us until 9:15 and my kids wake up without fail at 7:30…. we do showers the night before, breakfast is just cold cereal and I pack lunches while they eat breakfast… I eat a protein bar every morning just because I walk around and still be telling one kid to put on their shoes and another to put on pants while I chomp away. I walk the kids to school everyday (well 2 outta 3, the preschool is a few miles out of my walking jurisdiction)…. and so the first day pics are always in the front yard as we get ready to walk, it takes me about 2 minutes because I dont really care if they are “perfect” or not.

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