Monday, August 08, 2005


128 Days to Go

So, I feel the need to clarify the pained expression on Kendrie’s face in the first-day-of-school photos, and perhaps send out feelers to see if I have any competition for this year's “Worst Parent of the Year” award.

As you know, school here started last Friday. My kids actually like school and I was so excited to send them off the first day in real, Beaver-Cleaver-style.

The night before, I happily and lovingly set my alarm for 6am so I would have time to shower, dress, and make them their favorite breakfast, homemade chocolate chip pancakes, before school. I had images of my three beautiful children waking, pleasantly, with the sunlight streaming through their bedroom windows as birds chirped outside, then scampering happily into the kitchen for breakfast, our family holding hands and perhaps singing a verse or two of “Kumbaya” around the breakfast table. Then, they would all get dressed, brush hair and teeth without a single complaint, and we’d grab the backpacks and clamber in the van, laughing and joking our entire way to school. We would walk down the halls the first day together, hugging goodbye, smiling and wishing each other luck. Passer-Byers would stare and say enviously, “Wow, that Escoe family really has it together, don’t they?”

Hmmmmm. Who was I kidding?

Those of you who know me, know that I am a scrapbooker. And those of you that know scrapbooking, know that the first day of school isn’t about the academic and social potential of children --- it’s all about the first-day-of-school photos.

So, a few days before school began I told my children to pick out what clothes they wanted to wear the first day, so I could give my approval and/or permission. Brayden, of course, is at that stage where the more glitter and sequins on a blouse, the better. Clothing stores don’t help, when for some reason anything larger than a size 6 is a direct Brittney Spears knock-off, but as far as Brayden is concerned, the more bejeweled, the better. Fortunately, we were able to compromise and both of us were happy with her first day clothing choice. (It was her new sandals, with the two-inch heels, that made her look taller than Kellen in the photo, for those of you who asked. And also for those of you who asked, yes, normally her hair curls in the humidity. We straightened it on purpose for the big event -- the first day of third grade!)

Kellen could care less what he wears. Denim, burlap, toga ….. He’s seven years old, and I still pick out his clothes each day because it just doesn’t matter to him. Easy-going, anything is fine …

Then there is Kendrie. NOTHING she selected met the Kristie-Escoe-Seal-Of-Scrapbooking-Approval. NO to Scooby Doo t-shirts, NO to Star Wars t-shirts, NO to camoflauge t-shirts --- truly, it would have looked like I shopped for her back-to-school clothes at Goodwill … (the OLD Goodwill across town!) if I had let her pick out her own clothes.

But she would have NONE of what I was choosing. Everything was “too girly” (even though they plainly weren’t). So we made what I thought was a fair negotiation. She would wear the shirt I picked long enough for pictures, then when I was finished, she could take whatever shirt she wanted to school and change in the bathroom before class started. I ask you, has there ever been a parent more willing to compromise? I think not.

Fast forward to Friday morning. Alarm goes off, I shower and dress, go in the kitchen to make the much-hyped chocolate chip pancakes …. Uh, oh, no chocolate chips. (Remind me to fire that irresponsible personal shopper of mine!) So I made plain pancakes, and when I woke my children, who, by the way, were nowhere near as agreeable and happy as my fantasy children, they were extremely upset that I promised chocolate chip and didn’t come through. Brayden, in fact, went into a complete tailspin and I managed to yell at her before she’d even been up five minutes.

Nothing went as planned, the kids sniped at each other and insisted, grumpily, that they **were NOT** tired, it’s just that school is stupid and why should they have to go? No one could get in their groove, Kellen didn’t understand why he had to brush his teeth, and it was a few minutes before I realized Kendrie wasn’t getting dressed. She had somehow come to the sneaky conclusion that if she didn’t put on the shirt I set out for her (the blue and white striped one in the above photo, which I personally didn’t think was “too girly” but she insisted it was) that I would somehow cave in and let her wear her Field Day t-shirt from last year. The one that all her Pre-K classmates had signed their names in big black marker all over the shirt. Yeah, like *that’s* the look I'm going for in my photos-that-last-a-lifetime.

Again, I reminded her of our compromise …. a few photos, with smiles, then she could change. Things went rapidly downhill, to include tears, wailing, and threats on her part, until I finally yelled at the top of my lungs in frustration, “FINE! Then you can just STAY HOME the first day! I don’t really give a crap!”

Yeah, that’s parenting at its finest, don’t ya think?

Finally, finally, we were running late, but at least out the door. We made it to school and Kendrie posed for the requisite photos with her Kindergarten teacher, then couldn’t get to the bathroom to change clothes fast enough.

I realize, truly I do, that the shirt my child wears on the first day of school isn’t that big a deal. So she looks like a street urchin at school … does it actually matter? The crux of this problem was that we had made a DEAL, and she wasn’t going to stick with it, so I had to put down the ugly, heavy parenting foot and ruin everyone’s morning. Honestly, those weren’t smiles on their faces in the photo in front of our house, they were looks of terror that I was going to lose my mind and start screaming again in front of the neighbors.

So last night, mentally preparing for this morning, the 2nd day of school, I decided things were going to go much better. I had the chocolate chips at the ready and the pancakes were a huge success. No one lost their temper, everyone was dressed and ready to go, even a few minutes early. There was laughter in the air and I was mentally patting myself on the back and feeling quite smug for having gotten my act together and being the parent I *wanted* to be on Friday.

Then, it happened. Brayden was squeezing the gelatinous globby ball-thing that she got at the Dollar Store yesterday, and got a bit too enthusiastic watching the fish “swim” through the goo …. When the entire thing exploded all over her. So suddenly she’s standing there in her new skirt and blouse and Lizzie McGuire tennis shoes, with glitter and gel splattered all over her, dripping down off her face and out of her hair, forming a big puddle of goo on the kitchen floor that the dog was trying to lick up and tracking all over the place. And we had exactly ten minutes before it was time to leave for school.

Believe it or not (probably NOT, my friends would say) I didn’t lose my cool. No yelling, no insane flailing of my arms as I try to make my point about making huge messes ten minutes before school starts ….. I simply threw her in the shower real quick and threw the goo-splattered clothes in the washer. We even made it to school on time, can you believe it? It was another mad rush in the front door, not very pretty, but we made it. I’m hoping tomorrow goes smoothly --- from the buzzing of the alarm until the ringing of the first school bell. Third mornings a charm, right? If not, I suppose we’ve got nine entire months to get it right.

Another “Scrapbooking Moment” that I thought I would share with you is the interview I did with Kendrie when she returned home after her first day. This is a great tradition I’ve done with my kids every year, and it’s always both enlightening and entertaining. Here goes this years:


What is your teacher’s name? "Mrs. Mxxxxxxxx"

How did she act in the classroom today? "Nice."

Who are your best friends in class? "Nicholas." (big surprise, huh?)

What was your favorite part of the first day? "Laying down."

What is your favorite part of the classroom? "The dinosaurs."

What did you eat for lunch? "Pizza"

What was the funniest thing that happened today? "Nothing, really."

What do you want to be when you grow up? "Annikan Skywalker."

Your best grade will probably be in? "Running."

If I could stay up late on a school night I would: “Eat popcorn and watch Annikan Skywalker.”

Of all the things I can do, I am best at: “Loving Mommy and Daddy and Brayden and Kellen and myself and Jesus and God.”

Thanks for checking in,

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