Loudoun mom’s diary: The sock, the fears, the tears
It all started with those darn chair socks. There they were. The one item on the school supply list for my soon-to-be-kindergartener that I found myself searching for on Google. Chair sock? Really?
Turns out, it's just like it sounds. Socks for chairs … and no where to be found in any store in Northern Virginia. Sure, I could have searched Amazon, but, like any good journalist and full-time working mother, I procrastinated.
Thus began the start of my back-to-school anxiety.
No one wants to be the mom of the kid who doesn't have all he needs for class.
After a month on the hunt, I gave up. No chair socks for my 5-year-old. I draw the line at knitting for inanimate objects.
He also went to school without five packs of eight-count crayons – because the 24-pack wasn't enough – and four pens (black, flair, fine tip). And, trust me on this, there's none of those to be found in Loudoun County and parts of Fairfax, either.
Two days prior to kindergarten orientation at Pinebrook Elementary School, my husband and I found ourselves debating what all the schedules we got meant. I'm sure for most, it's elementary (no pun intended), but we were clueless.
Once we figured out our child was to go with us (no, I'm not kidding, we honestly didn't know that) the staff at the school eased our tensions.
Then came the dreaded bus practice. Getting my child on the bus in the morning … no problem. But what happens when school lets out for the day? My husband and I are at work. We're transplants via four different states, so family help is not an option. This was a problem I had put out of my mind for years, hoping that by the time Sam was 5-years-old, Loudoun County would have full-day kindergarten. And my family would be saving nearly $14,000 a year in daycare costs (yes, that's just one child.) No such luck.
I knew Sept. 2 would come one day. I was prepared. My son, Sam, has been in daycare since he was 10-months-old. I spent two weeks crying on my way to work each day when I started with the Loudoun Times-Mirror almost five years ago.
I've got this, I thought. Wrong. So wrong. As Sept. 2 drew closer, my stomach knotted each time someone asked me if Sam was excited about school.
All the questions that go through every mother's mind began to take over … well maybe not every mother. Thoughts of children flying through the air in a seatbelt-less bus crash, a stray chair sock hitting the driver in the head, invaded my dreams.
See, after more than a decade in journalism, most of it working as a public safety reporter, I've covered just about every possible scenario involving crimes against children. Let's just say I'm paranoid.
The hustle and bustle
So here we are. Hustling one kid to the bus stop, our 8-month-old to daycare. From elementary school, my child must get on another bus to take him to a taekwondo studio. There we pay to continue the second half of his kindergarten education and an hour of taekwondo lessons.
Did I forget to say he also plays hockey three days a week? I honestly, after this week, will have the utmost respect for all Loudoun County parents. I can't imagine they're not as stressed as I am.
My smiling face
With all my anxiety and complaining about Sam's first day – did I mention my eyes welled with tears four times during orientation – my brave little guy on Sept. 2 strapped on his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles backpack, walked to the bus stop with us and, without even so much as a flinch, hopped on the bus. He was so excited he barely told me and his father good-bye. I stood and watched the bus drive away with my no-longer baby inside.
Next stop – high school graduation (at least in this mother's mind.)