Mansfield schools start tomorrow and my son begins second grade. We got a letter from his new teacher welcoming him to her class and giving us an assignment to bring in a caterpillar on his first day of school. Great, homework already! I don’t know about my son, but I’m not ready. The last week before school starts I find myself stuck in a black hole of sorts between summer mode and the school week regimen. It becomes a non-productive waiting game I call my nexus week. I’m not quite ready to wrench myself out of our agenda-free summer, but I can’t enjoy it like I did the rest of the season because I know what’s right around the corner: Caterpillar homework.
Not that we really have anything left to do. We’re all beached out. We’ve gone through all our play date playmates. We’ve done the zoo, the museums, and hit every playground. A membership to Old Sturbridge Village sounded so great in June, but as we dragged ourselves through yet another visit last weekend, all I saw were a bunch of old houses. The blacksmith was making a three-legged trivet. Three months ago I was dazzled by this skill, but all I could think now was, “Yeah, but can you make a seven-year-old boy try on more than one new pair of pants?” Now that would be impressive.
It’s a tough transition from the lazy days of summer to the upcoming days of collating calendars, packing school lunches, and making sure the crumpled homework I find in the bowels of his backpack gets completed. It’s not that clipping box tops or filling out scholastic book forms is that difficult. It’s the whole mentality of stepping it up from a summer of few responsibilities. Even our diets got lazy. If vegetarians knew the number of burgers we consumed this summer, they’d be picketing on our front lawn. The has become our Cheers, and we may need a ten-step program for getting off of S’mores. Now that the contents of my son’s lunches will be cafeteria-wide knowledge, my days of supplementing his PB&J with Cheetos and Oreos are over. He’s going to have to go back to apples, carrots, and fiber bars so that I can appear to be a nutritionally conscience mother. It’s all a lot to think about when my toughest decision the past three months has been Black Raspberry or Jonathan’s Supreme?
We happened to see my son’s teacher in her Vinton classroom last week. Since we were there, I thought it would be a great opportunity to give her some excuse for not doing that early homework assignment rather than tell her my nexus week is not a good time to be searching for a caterpillar and having to put together some sort of terrarium for it. Then I looked around her room. She was setting it up for the school year and on the tables she had lined up pencil boxes, organized wall posters, categorized books, and still had boxes upon boxes yet to be unpacked. To top it off, she had her one-year-old daughter with her and she made us feel like she had all the time in the world to chit-chat with her new student.
A caterpillar housed in a temporary Tupperware is now ready for the first day of second grade.