The first day of school is when my OAM (OverAchieving Mommy) gene rears its ugly head. I always demand that the Hubs takes the kids' pictures before school and then we both drive them up to the school and take their picture in front of the building marquee that says FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL and in their classroom at their desk and usually with their teacher. I don't get out an adorable handmade sign saying what grade they're in and what their favorite color and/or ice cream flavor is - I have my limits. I just want a couple of simple pictures to document the day.
I do like my pictures to look nice though, so I always pick out "first day of school outfits" for my kids.
Gomer is a third grader this year and up until now I've been pretty lucky that he's let me pick all of his clothes for him. He's never had a strong opinion on anything fashion wise. Over the years I've always dressed him in cargo shorts and cute boys shirts (I know, that sounds like an oxymoron, but there are some out there) and one year he even let me dress him in clam diggers (the Hubs called them capris - I called them precious).
Adolpha is a first grader and I've battled over clothing choices with her since she was two. She would literally rip clothing off of her body that she did not approve of. Literally. Like the Incredible Hulk. I stopped shopping for her by myself when she was three and I realized that it was easier to have her approve clothes in the store so that I didn't waste my money when she tore them off of her body. I wasn't a total pushover though. I would always give her two choices that I found appropriate and then I'd make her choose. It gave her some power, but still kept me in charge. We still go round and round over high heeled shoes and short shorts. Fucking clothing manufacturers. She's six, not 26. I'm used to a little pushback from Adolpha on the first day. For instance, last year she got it in her head that she wanted to wear a private school uniform. They had them at The Children's Place and she really liked the look of the jumper so that was her first day of school outfit, complete with the matching headband.
This year, the night before school I went into Gomer's closet to pick the clothes for him to wear for his first day of school.
“What are you doing, Mom?” he asked.
“Finding you an outfit for tomorrow,” I replied.
“I don't wear 'outfits', Mom,” he sulked.
“Fine. I'm looking for clothes for tomorrow.”
“Why can't I wear these?” He held up a pair of dirty athletic shorts. This summer Gomer turned into a jock. I'm not sure when it happened. Right around the same time he outgrew all of his cargo shorts and his nice Gymboree shorts. When I took him shopping for new shorts he begged for those swishy athletic shorts. I looked around and noticed that all of the boys were wearing them so I relented.
“Because they're dirty and I want you to look nice for tomorrow.”
“Fine. I'll get a clean pair,” he rummaged in his drawer and pulled out another pair.
“Gomer! Please. Tomorrow is the first day of school. I would like a picture of you and your sister looking nice. I will dress you tomorrow and after that unless it's picture day or something else I call dibs on, you can wear all of your sports stuff. OK?”
“Mommmm,” Gomer said. “But what about Adolpha? She's already picked out her outfit. Did you approve it?”
I turned to Adolpha, “You picked out an outfit?”
“May I see it please?”
She scampered off and returned a few minutes later in jean shorts, a sparkly blingy tank top, a faux fur vest that fit her when she was a toddler and is now just a weird faux fur bolero thing and sparkly high top sneakers.
That's when everyone started freaking out on me. OK, it wasn't like I pulled out ah-dor-able matching Gymboree outfits for the two of them to wear like the precious snowflakes that they are. I wasn't asking Gomer to wear a t-shirt with a dinosaur on it! Was it too much to ask that everyone look presentable for one damn picture?!!
I finally compromised with everyone – no one was happy, including myself. I've been told in sales that's considered a win-win because everyone feels a little screwed. Well, it was a win-win then, because I felt hosed!
The next morning everyone let me comb their hair with little or no drama (except Gomer suddenly wanted his "spiky" now and Adolpha refused her standard 'do of braids and instead opted for a "cool" headband) and we headed to the school for pictures.
As we walked up to the front of the building I caught a glimpse of one of Gomer's friends sneaking in a quick kiss with his mom when he thought no one was watching. “Oh! Gomer,” I said.
“I just saw Helmut kiss his mother in the parking lot. Do third graders not kiss their moms goodbye in the classroom?”
Gomer thought on that one for a second, “Nope. If you want one, now is the time.”
I pulled him close and kissed him several times and whispered, “But I still get one in the classroom, right?”
“Ugh, no Mom!” Gomer tried to push me away.
In his classroom, I quickly realized that kisses weren't the only thing you didn't get anymore. No one gets a quick picture with the teacher either. That stuff is for second graders. Third graders give you a side hug and shove you out the door. From what I've heard I was even lucky to be allowed in the door.
As I left in a hurry, I leaned down and whispered in Gomer's ear, "Have a great day. I love you, but I hate third grade."