Monday, September 5, 2011

I don't wanna.

If you're anything like either of your parents, Batman, you will both dread and be irrationally excited about the first day of school. I'm pretty sure this is a normal way of approaching the beginning of a ten month long experience that is, on many levels, comparable to a Chuck-E-Cheese birthday party. You're justifiably scared to touch or be touched by most of the people and objects there, the food sucks (unless you bring your own, which you sometimes have to sneak in or face ridicule for bringing), there are threatening people everywhere, and you're more or less trapped until it's over with no one but the few other sane individuals there for company until the party is deemed over. Wow...that makes my job sound terrible. It's really not that bad, and school actually is fun! I swear! Perhaps what I really meant is that going to school is like being both the disgruntled parent at a Chuck-E-Cheese birthday party AND the hyperactively excited child who legitimately wants to be there. Yes. That makes me want to cry much less.

Many of the things NOT to be excited about are obvious. Suddenly, there is going to be work to do. All the time. There will be sixty-something little human beings dependent on me for not only vital literacy skill development (no pressure there), but also for advocacy, emotional support, and compassion for the fact that they are basically hormone grenades in assorted stages of peppering one another with psychological shrapnel. I have some coworkers who, to use the kindest terminology possible, are less than awesome, and they happen to be some of the people I need to deal with the most. The self-conscious questions of "do these people actually like me," "am I actually doing a good job," "how can I actually follow through on everything," and "how the hell am I going to keep myself sane through all of this?" have already been weighing on me for weeks, if not months.

One of my biggest worries is being focused on the "right things," whatever those may be. One of the truly beautiful aspects of this summer was being able to focus almost exclusively on you, Batman. Even when I was feeling totally crappy, I could spend basically all of a day plopped on the couch, hand over where I assumes you were floating, and just think positive thoughts at us both. It was absolutely fine to spend hours of a day reading pregnancy blogs and birth stories, or anal-retentively researching potential additions to your absurdly carefully composed registry. I've been feeling you wiggle around since about week fifteen (at least I'm almost positive it wasn't just gas in the beginning), so now as we approach week nineteen (holy crap), I'm pretty fixated on all those little kicks and pops. I'm bummed that your Dad can't feel them yet; they're so sporadic that I can't even get my own hand to the right spot by the time you've stopped, even less get him across the room and onto my tummy. I'm pretty positive I won't need to stop teaching at any point to say "Ooh! Kicks! Check it out!" even though there definitely will be girls who would LOVE to get their hands on you, but I am worried that I will be so distracted by your very existence that paying attention to the kids I get PAID to pay attention to will become a challenge.

So, what's so good about starting a new school year? Back to school shopping!!! New clothes are a major bonus...assuming you have a wonderfully loving grandparent or parent who is willing to take you clothes shopping. When you have to pay for these exciting new duds yourself, some of the thrill is sucked away from the experience. New school supplies are ALWAYS exciting, regardless of who is footing the bill. I'm not going to even attempt to downplay my irrational passion for school supplies, because doing so would be like trying to tell a giraffe that they are not tall. It would be irrational and a lie. Your father and I both get this glazed-over, hazy, small-child-on-Pixie-Sticks-style twinkle of excitement in our eyes when we enter an office supply store. We practically get a buzz off the smell of fresh paper and just-opened boxes of pens and pencils, and the tinkle of paperclips through our fingers is like the bells on Santa's sleigh. I don't exaggerate. Watch us sometime. You'll be charmingly embarrassed.

Of course, there are more intangible things to be excited about, too. Even though I was never any sort of popular kid, I loved coming back to school to see how the score would settle out this year. Who pulled their head out of their ass over the summer, and who stuck theirs up there? Who is coming back sobered and mature, and who had one of those awful hormone surges that will make them absolutely intolerable? Frankly, these dichotomous changes are EXACTLY the same from age five through Some coworkers are substantially awesomer than I remembered them to be (although my being pregnant may have something to do with their more cuddly natures), and some people might as well be threatening wedgies and writing nasty notes about other kids on the bathroom walls. Yay human nature.

I am more than a little excited about all the attention I'll get. Yeah, I know...for someone who embarrasses as easily as I do, and for someone who dislikes being the center of attention so much, I think I can easily shift the focus from myself to you. I'M not the one being praised for completing simple tasks competently despite being pregnant: YOU'RE the one being lauded for allowing me to retain some degree of competence. I'M not the one that random coworkers seem disposed to attempt to force-feed: YOU'RE the one to whom they want to give those extra baked goods and candy. Being pregnant in a school means the Nosy Nelly-style streams of critical advice, but (as I've been told, and can only hope is true) much more sedate students and an endless fountain of maternal/paternal words of encouragement. I'm working off previous experience and shared advice here, but I'm really keeping my fingers crosses that things are just generally easier enough that my total lack of focus (ooh, look, something shiny!) balances things out.

This may all be childlike optimism, but Batman, that optimism is just about all that gets human beings to walk back through the doors of a school come September.

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