Tonawanda News

September 3, 2013

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Musings for the first day of school

By Jill Keppeler
The Tonawanda News

— They are so ready.

It’s a matter of days, now, until the boys head back to school: One to a familiar setting, teachers and friends (for whom he’s been asking since June), one to an entirely new place and adventure. He is, characteristically, excited.

We have our supplies, crayons, art smocks, new lunchboxes and backpacks. (Batman and Perry the Platypus, respectively.) There are new jeans that actually fit (man, they <\Iz12f”sans-serif”>grew) and new shirts in the closet. The days are marked on the calendar. I get asked every day, if it’s time.

No, I say. Not yet. It will get here. Two more months ... a few more weeks ... days ...

And now it’s almost upon us. I’m very glad to see them heading back to school — they’ve been bouncing off the walls and driving us just a little bit nuts — but I’m pensive, too. Is the little one ready for this? Is the big one doing everything he can do? 

I think so. Sometime you just have to give them a kiss (I can hear it now ... “MoooOOOM!”) and send them off. Neither of them have never, ever showed the faintest sign of separation anxiety (it’s more like “Oh, are you still here?”), so that’s one less thing to worry me.

But I worry anyway.

For Sam, this is the start. School lunches and report cards and cubbies (later lockers) are on their way. The kids he meets this week could very well be standing with him in 13 years at graduation. Best friends, nemeses, prom dates. It’s enough to make a mommy get misty eyed.

He’s more than ready to learn. I hope he does a little better at paying attention. I hope he remembers how we’ve talked about personal space. I hope he loves school as much as I loved it a long, long time ago, on my first day of kindergarten.

For Jim, it’s back to the familiar. His situation is different, but he loves school. He’s asked every morning since a week or two into summer break if he’s going to see his teacher and aide today, and I can’t wait to see his face when he does.

He keeps surprising me, in a good way, with how much he’s learned. I hope that never stops.

I know that one of these days, we’re going to get the “I don’t wannnnnnna go to school!” or “I don’t wanna get up!’ or whining about homework and tough teachers.

But until then, I’m going to bask in the enthusiasm, the reminder that learning is marvelous and school can be awesome and everything is new to someone.

They are so ready for this.

•••

With the return of school comes the countdown to my favorite season in Western New York. 

I love fall. I love the smells, the tastes, the activities ... everything. And I’m busily marking the family calendar with all the things I want to do with the kids.

The usual things: Pumpkinville in Cattaraugus County, near my hometown. (There’s a pumpkin muffin with my name on it.) The Haunted Harbor in the Tonawandas, which we attended in 2011 (scared away by rain last year, but the boys still talk about it). Farmers markets galore. The Museum of Play Halloween party. Howl-O-Ween Hayrides at the zoo.

This year, I’m thinking apple-picking somewhere, since apple pie is an eagerly awaited treat around this household. And there’s always more for Halloween. Maybe the event at Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village? Or will I finally get to do one of the historical ghost walks?

What are your favorite things to do with your family in a Western New York autumn? Let me know.

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at jill.keppeler@tonawanda-news.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JillKeppeler.