Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Day of School

Devon had his first day of school.

It was hard. Harder than I thought it would be. As a parent, I feel like my job is to do "the best" for my kids. In my mind, I've been trying to give Devon the best since he was first placed in my arms when he was born. I thought about taking off that scratchy cheap newborn hospital t-shirt and putting him in his softer-than-clouds perfect onesie that I had bought for this moment. As soon as he was eating, I wanted only the best for my angel, making every bite from scratch and making sure he was perfectly content. As I far as I could control, my baby had "the best" of whatever a baby could possibly want or enjoy. When he grew to love dinosaurs, I searched every single store within a 50 mile radius to find that one plastic iguanodon to add to his collection. And trust me, you can find t-rexes and triceratops for days, but just TRY to find an iguanodon and you'll understand the depth of my love. Anyways, it's not just about things but more about that desire to make sure your child is loved and cared for to the best of your abilities... I would literally go to the ends of the earth for my boys.

And then school happened.

It's not that I didn't have a hint as to what was to come, it was that I was running away from my problems and hoping that something would miraculously change my situation. I was the ostrich who had her head buried in the sand and would think about the countdown to school and just hope that somehow we would win the lottery, even though I hadn't bought a ticket.

I knew our school wasn't the best when I had my school tour, but I saw cute little kids in classes and they were learning and I thought in the back of my head "it'll be fine Julie, it'll be fine." Except it wasn't.

Without going into too much detail, life happened and we had a MAJOR breath-holding, heart-stopping, praying-all-night medical scare with Devon and thank God...no for real, THANK YOU JESUS, it turned out that he is going to be perfectly and wonderfully fine. All of this coincided with the first week of school, so maybe I was already a mess to begin with...

So, school started and it wasn't "the best." In fact, I can only say that our school open house was a disaster of epic proportions. Basically "who's in charge?" and "why are there so many people that seem to be angry and panicked?" and "I'm not letting MY Devon step foot in this hell-hole school!" type thoughts. (Oh, and also Dean had his tennis shoe stolen by a "gang" within the first 20 minutes of being there - for reals!) That Wednesday was rough, as both Firoze and I were literally stunned speechless. When we did start talking, our minds were racing a mile a minute as we tried to grasp any possible solutions, like home schooling or putting our house up for sale... irrational ideas because we were terrified of what we had just seen. I think that day we were shell-shocked.

When you want the very best for your child, it's unfathomable to put them in a situation that you feel is horrible or unsafe. But, that's what I felt like I was being forced to do. In my mind, I felt like the world was against me... why did I have to listen to stupid laws and people... I wanted to march my little genius boy into the best school in Atlanta and scream "he belongs HERE!" and they would take one look and open the doors. But it wasn't going to be that easy. My mind was screaming on the inside, for 5 days straight, from Wednesday until Sunday and I couldn't quiet it down.

And then the first day came. I knew Devon didn't know anything about this whirlwind of emotions that we were going through. He was thrilled and excited about the idea of going to school. And that made it better. Actually, he was OVERJOYED and kept telling us how much he would love it. So, I decided to give that school one day to get it right. If they messed up, I would march in there and take my little one and run away as far as we could and never look back.


As I expected, he was brave and confident. He was ready for this and never looked nervous for a second. I remember loving school as a child and I knew he would love it in the same way.


The first day he jumped out of bed and was so excited to go to school. He held my hand and was so excited to make it to his classroom and meet his teacher. It's funny how our thoughts were so different. I was hyper-aware and looking for any sign of distress or anything that wasn't right (remember?... so we could run away)


And on that first day, it was much harder than I thought because here was my little boy, taking this big step and having the time of his life, and I was struggling with all those thoughts in my head. Why couldn't I give him the best? Why? He deserves it more than anyone... he's so smart and so good. Why don't we have enough money for private school? Why is life so hard? I think I had a nervous breakdown on the inside that day.


After all this emotional drama, you know, it was almost easy to let go. He just walked into his class and took off his backpack like he's been doing it his whole life. He didn't look scared or bewildered. He looked happy.


And I realized I have to let go. I can't hold on to all this emotion. It'll be fine... that's what I keep telling myself.


And just like every other moment where parenting becomes the hardest thing you've ever done, you pull yourself up and keep going. You put a smile on your face and never let your kids see you struggle. You tell them "you're going to love school because this is the best school ever!" You pack them a special lunchbox with organic healthy options and you put in a note that says "I love you" or "You're the best!" You know that somehow, kids become doctors in third world countries and world leaders rise up out of the ashes, because they went to ram-shackle, hell-hole schools. They already had IT in them, that desire to be great and to take that sliver of good and run like hell with it. And I know Devon will do it too. He'll amaze me even more than he already has, whether he goes to this school or the best private school in Atlanta. Of that I'm sure.

Devon wanted to take my picture with Dean. And he even used the "big" camera!


And after I forced myself out of the school on the first day, I thought "wow, I made it without any tears." And then I got in the car and Dean had tears rolling down his cheek and said "Den-Den come..." and "where's Den-Den?" and then my eyes filled with tears too.

And now this is OFFICIALLY the hardest blog post I've ever written.
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