The Terrible, No Good Story of the First Day of School No One Will Forget

The Terrible, No Good Story of the First Day of School No One Will Forget

It was a hot Tuesday a few years ago, towards the end of the summer holiday. School was starting in the next day or two, and I had planned an afternoon of back to school shopping, but I needed to fill the morning with some activities for my kids. Add to that I had missed our biweekly garbage and recycling pickup, and so a trip to the local transfer station was also in order. It was going to be a busy day.

Here’s where – if this was a TV show – the dramatic foreshadowing music would begin.

I thought I’d get a jump on the day early on, so I called the home of my son’s best friend to see if I could arrange a playdate in order to get some time to get things done. My son’s friend’s mom answered right away, but stayed quiet for a minute after I suggested the boys play together for the day.

“Jeni,” she replied. “Eli can’t play; he’s… on the bus.”

I told her I was surprised that his day camp ran this close to the start of school and so she clarified, “No; he’s on the SCHOOL bus. School starts TODAY.”

Well, this was a surprise.

I checked the school calendar; I was certain the kids started a day later, but she was right. I glanced at the clock and found I had exactly 15 minutes to get these kids ready for their first day of school. In no way were we close to ready; we had no lunch foods, no one’s hair had been cut, there were no fresh clothes or backpacks, and there was nary a sharpened pencil in sight. Plus, the van was chock-full of garbage bags and recycling bins headed to the dump.

I launched into “Mom: Panic Speed” (all moms have this setting) and made pitiful but functional lunches, found two pencils in my purse, and shook last year’s crumbs out of weathered backpacks. The kids – fighting the momentum the whole way – were unwillingly loaded into the van and driven to school, protesting loudly. (And in their defense, this was not exactly an Instagram-worthy “Back to School” first day photo shoot – in looks or spirit.) We pulled into the school parking lot at the top of the hill and my son bolted, lest he miss making a good locker selection… except his hasty exit caused the entire recycling bin headed for the dump to tumble out of the car, spilling its contents onto the asphalt. The contents promptly rolled down the hill, coming to rest in the school garden’s rosebushes.

So, rather than celebrating in peace with a quiet coffee on a warm patio, I plucked tomato cans and empty yogurt containers from prickly rosebushes while children’s sweet voices serenaded me with the morning rendition of “O Canada” and school administrators looked through the office window, stifling grins. I smiled back; life with children is never boring.

Here’s to some wonderful (mis)adventures for you and your family this school year!


Written by: Jeni Marinucci,

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