Holden cooly replied, "10"
Caleb was a tad more cautious. His number was an 8, said with just a flicker of nerves.
Ethan was our cynic. He said nothing, but held two fingers over his head.
I looked over at Eve, sitting right beside me. Thoughtfully she moved her mouth from side to side as if calculating the ramifications of all of her emotions and how they might add up, wanting to snatch the accurate answer among all of those ten possibilities. Finally, she sat up straight and held her index finger in the air, the way she does when making a point, and said confidently, "One-hundred-and-forty-eight percent!"
Our band of mixed emotions and responses. We can always count on them for variety and entertainment.
When I took Holden to Middle School Registration the week before school started, I could feel my adolescent self sneaking up on me, worrying about whether I was going to fit in with the cool kids. I had to shake it off before I started curling my bangs under and hopping into my zippered Guess jeans and sliding into my Swatch. My nerves were jangling in the labyrinth of hallways, but Holden calmly walked around the school with me like the chaperone of the pair, leading me to the Library (his self-proclaimed "best feature" of the school) and to his Home Room.
The first day of school, I insisted on driving him there, although he would have happily taken the bus. As I dropped him off at his classroom, the tears spilling out, I was saved from my own sobs by an onslaught of lost tweens who swarmed around me with terror in their faces. Looking relieved to find a "teacher-esque" figure, they took turns frantically asking me, "Do you know who my teacher is?" and "Do you know where room 254 is?" I almost started giggling in their faces, but maintained a calm, adult-like exterior, since apparently that was the role I was supposed to take. I just told them I was so sorry I didn't know a darn thing, but that I could tell them where the office was. I made a quick escape after that, leaving my tears behind in the pre-pubescent chaos (at least until I got outside and started crying again).
Ethan had been the most reluctant to start school, confiding in me over pizza on our pre-school outing to Craigo's. I asked him what he had heard about his teacher, who has quite a reputation among the parents because of his flamboyant tendencies and practice of cross-dressing for school assemblies, complete with feathered boa. Ethan said he hadn't heard anything about him from the other kids. Then he paused and said, "I asked Holden about him and Holden says he's round." Okay. . . We'll stick with that then.
In kindergarten, Caleb was our shrinking violet, but this year he was the king of the jungle gym, eager to get to school and consort with his many friends. His teacher last year told me at Parent-Teacher Conference that Caleb was the unspoken leader of the class and that all of the other kids looked to him for answers. Our shy little guy who used to hide under furniture when guests came to dinner? That'll teach me to ever label my offspring!
In his new-cool-Caleb style, he practically swaggered off to class on the first day this year, barely looking back as he headed into the school.
On Eve's back-to-school outing, we were waiting in line at the pizza buffet when we saw a woman from our old ward. I said hello to her and mentioned that Eve was going to be starting kindergarten this year. The woman transformed in that way some adults do when they're talking to children and babies. She bent down and then contorted her face, raising her eyebrows two inches above her eyes, smacking her mouth and inhaling with a quick "haaah" before speaking with a voice a good octave higher than its usual tone. She loudly squeaked at Eve, heavily annunciating each syllable, "So. . . .YOU'RE STARTING KINDERGARTEN THIS YE-AR? ARE YA SOOO EXC-IT-ED?"
Eve looked the woman up and down, slowly lowered her chin, and then graced her with the look of a sixteen-year-old who has just seen someone wearing last year's leg-warmers, complete with the arched eyebrows and the puckered lips (we call this her "Noelle look). Saying nothing, Eve just stared at this woman for five straight silent but deadly seconds as I struggled not to laugh out loud. The woman straightened up and said, "Well. . . I guess she's not excited."
On the morning of the first day of school, a full thirty minutes before my alarm was set to go off, I could hear some rustling outside of my bedroom door. Then I heard someone quietly clearing their throat. This throaty "hu-hum" sound repeated itself three of four times until I could make out the blurry outline of a small figure peeking into the room. I put on my glasses and saw Eve standing there dressed in her first-day-of-school-garb. I just whispered to her, "Eve. . . it's early!" and she nodded and slipped away as quietly as she had come.
Eve and I made her outfit together and had to stop our crafty-concocting after we had assembled a skirt, a t-shirt, bows, a bracelet, and flip-flops that all looked like they had come from some Back-to-School pageant. "And the new Miss Kindergarten 2009 is . . . Eve d'Evegnee! " (I'll be the first to admit that I got carried away. . . but when you're getting carried away, I say enjoy the ride, man!) (Truth be told, I had spent weeks planning and designing Eve's outfit. As for the boys, I just let them choose something from their closet and they were good to go. How sad. . . oh well. Oh yeah, I can count. I realize there are like fifty pictures of Eve in this post. . . Wull! It was her FIRST day of school! Hullo!)
When we got to her classroom for her first official day of school, Eve strategically placed herself next to a girl she knows from our ward. At the kindergarten open house the previous week, Eve had noticed that the girl was looking rather petrified and pulled me close and whispered, "I think Maddie's shy."Ever the mother-type, Eve sat right next to Maddie and enveloped her in that Eve-love that we all adore. I was beyond thrilled to capture Eve's interaction with her, even though honestly, by this point I couldn't see much of anything because of all of those stupid tears running down my cheeks.
Eve got to ride the bus home from school and there was a crowd of ardent admirers waiting for her (okay, me, Eric, Peter, and Marie). I couldn't stop myself from snapping an overload of photos as she told about how they had decorated a gingerbread man who had escaped from their classroom, forcing them to play hide-n-seek all over the school to find him. Eve said, "We decorated him with candy eyes and gumdrop buttons and frosting on his legs." She then paused in her tale and said, "We just shouldn't have given him legs! Then he couldn't have run away!"
When we asked Eve later in the week if they had found the Gingerbread Man, she shrugged her shoulders and said, "Yeah. He was in the President's office."