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There's a cheetah in my head

August 22, 2012 - Betsy Bethel
What goes through a mother's mind on the morning of the first day back to school? Well, I can speak only for this mother, and say that a cheetah is loose up there. In other words, my mind has been racing.

First thought of the day: Ugh. Really? As I stumble downstairs and focus on the kitchen clock, I realize I was late getting out of bed because my bedside battery-operated clock, operating with a new battery, must be losing time again. We don't have time enough to lose any! Mental note: buy a new clock.

Happy day! My 6-year-old doesn't fuss too long about getting out of bed. I hope this trend continues, because wrangling a 50-plus-pound sack of potatoes out of bed is not how I want to get my exercise in the mornings.

So grateful for small miracles! She doesn't slap my hand away or whine one bit while I constantly mess with her hair — a practice she detests. Apparently, she is just as preoccupied with whatever random thoughts her imagination is firing every 10 seconds as I am with smoothing, brushing and tucking her hair behind her ear every 10 seconds! Looks like I'm not the only one with a cheetah racing around in my head.

Teeth! Gotta brush 'em. This is a new morning habit that it is going to be like pulling teeth to form. But that's exactly what we are trying to avoid, pulling teeth! Today: success! I station her toothbrush on the windowsill above the kitchen sink for last-minute brushing. And I remember just in time to give her her multivitamin gummies BEFORE she brushes (otherwise, "they're too sour!")

Check the calendar to remind myself — yes, she's "hot lunch" today. OK, I don't need to pack a lunch. "But snacks, Mommy, don't forget the snacks!" Glad someone is paying attention. Grab the bags of Goldfish crackers and grapes that, in an uncharacteristic stroke of genius, I pre-bagged last night.

On the way to the car, we pause on the steps for pictures and I notice her knees are ashy! Oh no! Back in the house I run for a squirt of lotion to rub on them. We can't have dry knees on the first day of school! (I have no idea why.)

Oh geez, look how ginormous her backpack is! Tighten those straps! More, more! I just wrote an article for Monday's newspaper about the proper-fitting backpack, for heaven's sake. I don't want anyone to think I don't take my own advice!

In the car, on the way. Phew. I close my eyes (briefly!) and breathe, just breathe. The cheetah starts to slow down.

We get there and do hugs and more pictures and more hugs. She's happy. She's safe. She's ready to learn. Her hair is still messy. And off she goes with her new teacher. Sigh.

I get to my office. Eep! Pencils! I remember she still has no pencils in her supply box. Her 15 sharpened pencils that I thought I left on my desk the other day are not on my desk. Ask around the office. Email the teacher with apologies. Where could 15 pencils disappear to? Who would steal a first-grader's pencils? Or what did I do with them?

The cheetah picks up its pace. ...

 
 

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