My daughter goes back to school this week. Not until Thursday obviously. Got to keep room for all those snow days coming up.
On the one hand I'm very excited for her. She loves school. And it's Big School now as well. All day long. For the next 13 year at least. On the other she has just started to lose control of her ability to reign-in the crazy. Therefore I'm worried that the combination of being tired (school all day long), being hungry (no snacks because she's in school all day long) and being ridiculously excitable (see earlier two points) will leave her tired and prone to violence. Of course the teacher is an expert at handling this sort of thing. And even though I think I'm particularly good at just letting my daughter get her hands dirty and experiencing things I can't help but feel worried that she might get find the whole first day exhausting. Actually I've pretty much been told that will be the case and it's just about her learning how to handle it.So she has to suffer the stresses so she can develop control, learn to eat her meals, appreciate bed time and sleep and all that stuff. Which I'm sure she'll do with amazing success. But I still feel an irrational fear that she might need a touch of help (from me) to get through those first few days.
But because I know my daughter well I have this awful image of her sitting all giddy and happy at lunch in the cafeteria with her school friends. She's extra happy because she's got her own special lunch which she gets to eat at school! Not only that but the stuff she's eating is special and just for her to eat. But she's tired having been at school already for as long as Pre-K was. And she hasn't eaten anything since breakfast - which is usually the period of time when she claims she is so weak from not eating that she may whither away and die, but not before destroying everything first. So she'll pick up her little juice box and try to wrestle the straw off the side. Eventually she'll manage that. Then she'll take far too long to get it out of the feeble, little plastic sheath it's encased in. Then she'll try to stab it through the proper hole but be unable to do it easily. At long last she'll get it in and accidentally squirt it all over her shirt. Leading to a volcanic belch of emotions thrusting up inside her. At which point she'll be told that lunch time is over and she has to go back to class. Which will upset her even more as she's clearly taken on board the stresses I've made that she will only get breakfast and lunchtime to eat, so she must make the most of them. Oddly - in the paranoid version of this story in my brain - instead of being comforted and being allowed to finish her drink, she is pinned down by attendees and the Head Warden/Nurse Ratchet-type character angrily condemns her to spend the rest of her day in Solitary. Which she is taken to via the hellish hospital scene in Jacob's Ladder (I wouldn't watch that over breakfast). Then when I show up at the school later on they claim that they don't know who I or my daughter is. And - just to really nail the Jacob's Ladder comparison - that there is no-one employed at the school by either my daughter's current teacher's name or the one she had all of last year.
Of course that's all mental. She'll have a lovely time. The whole lunch part is will actually be nice too. There won't be any Attendees or Wardens. If Tim Robbins or Christopher Lloyd shows up I'd be surprised. There is an option of institutionalized food though. The school provides the sort of school lunches that would have Jamie Oliver mockneying about outside crying that people don't understand him and that he could make "magic happen" if they let him. Basically it's a variation of a sandwich (hotdog, chicken patty, ham patty (shudder), burger or (on days they've clearly run out of cheap, nasty bread) pizza. It's not great. There is even a day on the calendar designated for the kids to put an "Untidy Joseph" into their mouths. Which isn't a catholic thing, surprisingly. No - it's another name for a Sloppy Joe sandwich. Which for non-American is ground beef cooked and then covered in ketchup so that every inch of it is swimming in it. So I'll be making up lunches pretty much every day.
The nice part about that is that whatever she eats will be considered normal. There have been an untold number of occasions when I was at work eating lunch when it was pointed out by onlookers/coworkers that what I was eating was strange - therefore I must be as well. Part of that is because I'm not American and like food from my own culture - so often it's clearly different. And part of it is the that central NY staples of Tomato Pie and what passes for buffalo chicken wings are disgusting. So she can eat things that I make or she likes without fear of mockery. So she's already asked for a little bowl of chick peas and something to dip them in. That seems pretty ordinary to me, but the idea of beans/legumes to old coworkers was just entirely alien. The teachers will know things are strange though. So if I ever make cheese and onion pasties or a meal without a massive chunk of meat in it they'll assume it isn't weird, it's foreign (which is secret code for "communist weird.") Which is why I might deliberately make weird food and claim it's English. But stuff they'll actually want to try (even though I think it's patently disgusting) - that they then adopt and it becomes a weird local custom that they claim derives from the old country. I'm thinking these...
Moving on though - yesterday my daughter just invented, "map skating." Which is actually just accidentally standing on a piece of paper on the ground and then falling down when it slides away. I think that game is actually called Subdural Hematoma. But - even though she clearly didn't mean it the first time - she was quite pleased with herself and tried to replicate the whole experience. In an effort to prevent her from hurting herself (and from her brother from copying it and really twatting himself) I stressed that mp skating is an extreme sport, and that they should modify it for home use. So they both sat down on it as if it were a two-man kayak and started scooting about as if they were a dog with a bad case of worms. Sadly for them their coordination let them down as they both arse-scraped across the carpet it different directions. So the paper they were on ripped in half. I didn't want them flipping out about that (2 times out of 10 one of them would view something like that as evidence that being alive just isn't worth it) I told them I wanted to take a video of them. My daughter happily obliged. My son decided he was "going on a train" - which is apparently what wearing a backpack means.