The Not-So-Perfect 1st day of school

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In the excitement of a new school year, don't forget the underlying things kids really need. | the House of HendrixOur not-so-perfect 1st day of school

This picture…yup, it’s from last year. Want to know why? Because today it just didn’t work. Any of it!

Last night, I laid out freshly-cleaned uniforms in each of their rooms. I had lunches made, water bottles filled, and backpacks ready to go by the door. I planned a waffle breakfast and set my alarm clock 30 minutes earlier than necessary to ensure there would be extra time for cuddles and reassurance. I even had our chalkboard sign ready for pictures, like the ones currently flooding my Facebook scroll.  So this should be a happy post about the excitement of the first day of school.

But sometimes life just isn’t like that. It’s messy, unpredictable, and you just have to roll with the punches.

We had a good start but the last 10 minutes killed us. My son spilled syrup on that freshly-cleaned shirt. “No problem Sugar Dumpling. Let me get you another shirt.” Yay, we did that 3 times and there was no Sugar Dumping that 3rd time.

Our other son decided  kids would think his combed hair looked weird, so he put his hand to the top of his head and made circles until every last piece of hair was stuck in a different direction. Dad reprimanded and brushed it again. Lip quivering with anxiety over what the 1st graders would think, his hand returns to his head only this time evident it had nothing to do with his actual hair.   We told him his hair looked cool.

Then my daughter didn’t believe I had really signed her up for Hot Lunch and insisted on seeing the email confirmation before she would get in the car.

When I tried to take that 1st Day of School picture that I have taken every year since birth, the boys fought over who got to hold the sign, that is until the sprinklers went off spraying the chalk lettering. It was only kinda funny at the time.The not-so-perfect 1st day of school [the House of Hendrix}

It didn’t matter how much I prepared last night, today was going to be messy. We had nerves, anticipation, and a drippy eater. I was reminded it’s not my job to make the morning routine perfect, it’s my job to create an atmosphere that when they have their moments of anxiety and insecurity, there is warmth, guidance and grace.

I was once the maid of honor in a beautiful wedding where every detail was perfect. As I went to straighten the bride’s gown mid-ceremony, I knocked the tall glass-encased candles which lined the stairs to the altar. Every eye including my own froze with anticipation as we waited for the shattering of the glass at the bride’s feet. Thankfully it didn’t and there was laughter instead, but the bride’s mother came up to me afterwards and said  “Allison, thank you! I had been holding my breath for the perfect wedding and once you knocked that over, I finally exhaled. I knew it wasn’t going to be perfect and I was able to enjoy the moment.”  Uh, you’re welcome?

How often does our desire to create a perfect moment for our loved ones get derailed by the unexpected? What my children needed this morning wasn’t another cute picture in front of the house, they needed to know that there was order and certainty to the lunch process. They needed reassurance over an acceptance issue revealing itself through hair. And they needed to know that a little spilled syrup doesn’t have to ruin your day.

 The House of Hendrix

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27 thoughts on “The Not-So-Perfect 1st day of school

  1. I’m gonna start with this- bwahahaha! The photo of your son with his “tousled” hair is priceless…in light of the story. And you will look back in a week, a month, or twenty years and think so too. 🙂
    I find the honest pictures in life so much more beautiful, joyful, and hilarious than the pretty and put-together ones. Thank you for sharing the real moments with us this morning. It’s a breath of fresh air…mixed with sprinkler water. ;-D

  2. Wow! What a morning!! It’s comforting to know other moms have crazy times and live to tell about it. It seems whenever I have visions of my family having a wonderful family experience it usually ends up being a fiasco. Now I have learned to lower my expectations , and maybe I might be pleasantly surprised. Our first day is on the 26th … Wish me luck! P.S. Your kids are adorable …the pic of your youngest with wet messed up hair made me chuckle !

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  4. What an enjoyable and refreshing post! Our 3 year old is starting preschool in a couple weeks and I think this post might help me to “exhale” as you say and stop worrying about the perfect day. We went to a meeting a couple weeks ago for school and it was supposed to follow mass at the attached church. My daughter has never been to church and we have 2 great memories from the day. One is a picture of her in a pretty new dress, holding Daddy’s hand, frowning because she didn’t want to go. The other is the memory of her cheering “Yay! Good song” and clapping after the songs at church! Had to laugh and chock it up to making memories!

  5. What a great post. I can certainly relate! Your “wedding” tale kind of sums it all up doesn’t it? Thanks for sharing. I’m sure a lot of moms will appreciate this!

  6. The pictures are fantastic and just add to the story! I could totally see this happening in my house! Our first day of kindergarten 2 years ago was definitely not how I had envisioned it going. I received a call from my dad the night before telling me that my grandma might not make it through the night. So, in a mad dash, I dropped everything and drove over an hour to her bedside. The morning of, I had a job interview. We were headed out to the bus stop a few minutes early, only to have the bus pass us on our way there. We were headed in the wrong direction to the bus stop because we were given the wrong location. So, I quickly hurried my little kindergartner on the bus without a kiss goodbye and without a picture of her getting on the bus. 🙁 I went home and quietly cried on the couch for a moment, put myself back together, and went off to ace the job interview. Life happens. It ain’t always pretty. But the one thing I have learned in my 7+ years of being a mom is to either lessen my expectations or drop my expectations altogether. And we are all so much happier for it! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Oh the look on your sons face is priceless! This is very true. I’m usually one that likes everything planned to the T and go a bit crazy when things don’t go to plan, but I think I have to learn to let go of that and since becoming a mum, that certainly has happened! Thanks for linking up with Mummy Mondays. 🙂

  8. I don’t usually comment on these things, but I wanted to let you know how much this blog post reached out to me. I am spending my younger sons nap time searching for the perfect 1st day of kindergarten picture idea for my older one. I see some great ideas and have anxiety about making it right. Then I read your post and it put back into perspective that my priority is making my son’s 1st day perfect with love and assurance, not making the 1st day PICTURE perfect! Thank you for perspective! I am now going to put away the computer and enjoy the last few days of summer we have left!

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  10. It’s great to hear about another “not so wonderful” start back to school! My boys (6 and 8) woke me an hour before my alarm was set to go off. I looked at the clock and closed my eyes. “Go back to bed. It’s too early!” But they couldn’t go back to bed because they were already dressed and ready to go. Faced had been washed. Teeth had been brushed. They were even wearing their backpacks! So I sent them to the living room to watch PBS and told them to wake me when Cat in the Hat came on. (That would give me 45 minutes to get them out the door, even if I slept through my alarms.) The next thing I know, my final “get out the door NOW!” alarm was going off. I flew out of bed but it was too late. The 6 year old had missed the bus and he was letting me know how unhappy he was. The 8 year old made it, but only by the skin of our teeth. I got the 6 year old to school on time and we cheated to get “first day” pictures after school. Only the 6 year old was still mad about missing the bus so he refused to smile.

    • I hope you able to laugh about it now because it really is a hilarious story if you can step back. Just the missing the bus part after they’d woken up so early, and the photo of his frown will one day make him laugh. Hang in there sweet mama.

  11. I don’t know what it is, but at the end there I had a few tears — maybe the fact that you are so right — kids don’t need perfection. They need our patience and our love and reassurance.

    And, I have to say, I like the picture of them fighting over the sign a bit anyway.

  12. Down the road, this is going to be something you laugh about every time you get together for holidays. It’s truly perfect imperfection. I Love it! The important thing is that you made an effort, you captured a memory and you made the best of the situation. You Rock! Thanks for sharing.

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