North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

August 21, 2013

Danielle Cater: First day of school, and the kids are still alive

By Danielle Cater
North Jefferson News

COMMENTARY — The first day of school for the 2014 school year has come and gone, and thank God it’s gone. The first day of school can go one of two ways: either your children will wake up excited to start this new adventure with teachers and friends on their mind, or they will wake up in the foulest of moods and make everyone around them miserable until something drastic happens.

In my household, we had one of each Monday morning.

I figured things weren’t going to be too grand when I walked downstairs to find my 6-year-old all frowns in the restroom just staring at me as I walked in. “Are you ready for the first day of school?” I asked, all smiles.

“No,” was the only response uttered from my daughter’s beautiful lips.

Ugh! It was obvious that my morning wasn’t going to go as I had mapped out in my mind.

I went to wake up little sister, Anna, who didn’t want to budge, but didn’t seem to be quite so ill as her big sister, Raygan.

“I’m jumping in the shower,” I told them. “Have your clothes on, your hair brushed and your teeth brushed when I get out.” I have no idea why I even waste my breath on that sentence, but every morning I go through the same routine and every morning I find myself repeating those orders about 347 times.

As I stepped out of the shower, the only words I heard were, “I HATE my hair, I wanna get it cut off!” Wow, it was like listening to myself in grade school. I wanted to slap her and myself for giving her the talent to get so bent out of shape over a hairdo. I truly am paying for my raising with this one.

I calmly walked into the restroom and said, “Let me brush it out and fix it, and we will get it cut.” She stood there, arms crossed, staring at me for a moment then shouted, “Well, go ahead and cut it, I’m waiting!”

Oh, Jesus help me. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at that point. We went rounds about the hair for about 20 minutes, then I told her that I was going upstairs to do my makeup and she had better be over it by the time I was done.

I had already been informed the night before that the girls wanted waffles for breakfast, so in my feeble attempt at being a good momma, I had their waffles and syrup waiting for them on the table when they came out of their bedrooms. Of course the first words out of Anna’s mouth were, “I don’t want waffles; is there anything else to eat?” NO! NO, there is nothing else to eat and if you don’t act right, I might not feed you for the rest of the week.

At this point, I completely understood why animals in the wild eat their children at birth. Of course I’m only kidding, but my blood really was starting to boil.

We made it through the rest of breakfast, and after one broken hairbrush and a good deal of attitude, we made it through getting our clothes on, hair brushed and teeth brushed.

When it was time for shoes, I noticed that Raygan was once again whining at the front door.

“What’s your problem now?” I asked. “My shoes won’t fit,” she said. I looked down to see that she was trying to put on a brand new pair of Sperry shoes. The problem is that these shoes are red, blue and white plaid, and she is wearing a light pink, beautiful dress. “Those shoes are brand new. They fit just fine, but you aren’t wearing them with your dress. Get your sandals on and act right.”

After 10 minutes of whining and fighting, she saw that her momma is the queen of convincing and decided that since there is no way she is going to win this battle, she should just go ahead and put the proper shoes on her feet.

Now it is time for the first-day-of-school pictures. You can only imagine how this went. Anna is all smiles and Raygan looks like she has been getting shots at the doctor’s office all morning. After three failed attempts at getting a halfway-decent picture, I told her that I hoped she would be happy for the rest of her life with this picture of her first day of school. Not seeing the significance of this picture, she shrugged and walked off to the car.

After telling each other what we were thankful for (which we do every morning on our drive to work/school), attitudes were starting to turn around and I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. Raygan even requested another picture at school so that she would be smiling and happy in her first day of school shot. Thank you Lord for answering prayers and setting our attitudes in order.

We pulled up to school, and as the girls jumped out, I reached for my phone for another set of pictures and their backpacks — oh heavens, where are their backpacks? Where are their lunches? In all of the hustle of the morning I had completely forgotten to get their backpacks and lunch boxes. Why did God ever allow me to procreate? Epic fail mom!

Instead of melting into the seat and crying like a baby as I would have liked to have done, I started laughing — almost uncontrollably. I think it might have scared the girls, so through my laughter I told them that I have to go all of the way back home to get their stuff. They are so relieved that momma isn’t just going crazy that they started laughing, too.

We got out and took a couple of great first day of school pictures, and off they went into their classrooms.

No, I will never get an award for being mom of the year. No, no one will ever wish they could be a mom like me. But yes, my children did make it to the first day of school in one piece with food in their bellies and shoes on their feet, and after 8:15 they even had lunches and backpacks. No one ever said being a parent would be easy, but it is definitely rewarding.

I hope that all of the children in our area had a wonderful first day of school, and I hope that all of the parents enjoyed their coffee and relaxation after the first drop-off.

Yes, instead of crying while my babies walked in for their first day of school, I was laughing — but I do believe there were tears rolling down my face.