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September 29, 2010

Ol’ golden rule days truly are dear ... I suppose

NORTH TONAWANDA — Packing lunch boxes. Pre-arranging ever-so-cute outfits. Driving to early morning drop-offs. Selling chocolate to raise funds.

The school era in the Lane household has officially started.

Penny’s first few weeks of school could not have gone better. By her first full day, she had completely adjusted to the idea of going someplace that isn’t home twice a week to be with a group of fellow preschoolers and play all day.

As for the rest of us? The adjustment’s been a bit, let’s say, more gradual.

Mommy’s heart was (and might still be) a tad shattered. Penny was so anxious to get started on her first day that she neglected farewell hugs and kisses in order to get a head start on playing with the classroom’s box of musical instruments and its clamorous contents.

Just to ensure the wound festered for a bit, Penny didn’t want to leave on the first day, either.

Rigby is happy to have a bit of extra attention lavished upon him during school days — actually, make that ecstatic beyond belief. Even so, he clearly misses big sis, even if he doesn’t completely comprehend why she’s gone (he, in fact, has learned how to say her name since school started and calls for her while pointing to her car seat when we get her at the end of the day).

Our poor little Rigger man also looks somewhat lost on school mornings, unable to understand why Mommy and Daddy are scurrying around getting Penny to go potty, get dressed and eat breakfast in such a hurried manner. So on those mornings during which I am able to respond to his daily request for some sit-down time together (he points at the couch, pats the cushion a few times and says “Me!”) I am thrilled to oblige.

As for dear ol’ dad, I’ve had to get used to the 60-minute bump-up in my morning start-up time twice a week (Mommy starts even earlier, much to her credit). We’ve both also had to adjust our nightly routines to incorporate making Penny lunch (she loves sandwiches cut into dinosaur shapes), signing necessary paperwork and otherwise ensuring a smooth morning.

On a grander scale, it’s strange to think that, for the first time, Penny’s gone and we don’t know exactly what she’s up to (we ask her every school day what she did, but her typical 3-year-old answers to our interrogation leave a few gaps in time). From the moment a child is born, you know that the strings of attachment will break away, one by one, as the years progress, but having the first one snap is startling regardless of how much preparation you have.

But, while it’s sad in some ways to set her loose, it’s equally thrilling to see her thrive. She’s still at the point where school doesn’t equate to work (when I ask her what she learned, she tells me “Nothing! I played!”), and I can only hope that her enthusiasm for school continues to sprout.

Homework assignments, pop quizzes and peer pressure will probably quash that attitude at some point, but I can dream.

In the meantime, can I interest you in a candy bar?

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