First Days

It’s back to school season:  our house smells like Sharpies and new gym shoes, our lunchboxes don’t have jelly stains yet, and the kids are actually excited to go shopping.  Apparently buying pencils and binders is fun, but trying on pants is torture.  Go figure.

This year the excitement was elevated, because Sam started middle school and Maggie moved up to a new 5/6 combo class.  If only I could figure out a way to bottle this back-to-school energy and ration it until May!

Sam started 7th grade last week.  Gulp.


My middle school years were brutal, but Clark’s were a joyride.  Time will tell what these crazy years hold for Sam, but either way the dinner table is wide open for conversation.  And for the first time, he’s actually talking.  And talking and talking and talking.  Funny stories about speedwalking against the “huge flow of people” to make it from his locker to science class on time.  Cracking us up with his observations about the girls’ lockers:  “They have mirrors stuck on the door, and they put on makeup between classes!”  Amazement that he’s allowed to use his phone as a tool.  Slow attempts at building new friendships.  Full academic days at school, followed by 90 minutes of cross country running practice each afternoon.

Needless to say, bedtime isn’t a battle with this kid.

Maggie moved into the 5/6 combo class this year:


So far Maggie finds her new teachers “hilarious” and “risky.”  (Her science teacher nearly set himself on fire, so I suppose in the eyes of a 5th grader he is both!)  In typical Maggie fashion, she never hangs with the same kids two days in a row.  Apparently she spent her first recess of the school year chatting with one of the noon duties, and the next day she was engrossed in a giant game of Infection with half the kids in her class.

I have noticed that Maggie is atypically quiet this year.  We used to say, “Maggie!  TMD” when she told stories (TMD = Too Much Detail!) but lately I’ve had to fish for any details.  Maybe it’s because Sam is suddenly filling the void with his own words, and we are overly excited to hear about his new experiences in middle school?  We need to make sure to honor this exciting time in Maggie’s life too.

At dinner last week something special happened.  Sam was chattering on about his day, but he suddenly stopped talking and turned to Maggie, “What about your day?”  She shrugged and didn’t offer much, but he didn’t give up.  He started asking specific questions that only a child who had been in her class could know.  “Have you drawn classroom jobs yet?  What job did you get?”  She suddenly sprung to life, declaring that she received the best job in the entire class!  Mail duty!  He continued prompting her with specific questions, and before I knew it we had a better idea of how life was going in the old 5/6.

One way or another, we will keep the conversations going.  We hope they exit this year with not only more knowledge and skills, but also deepened friendships, broader perspectives, more curiosity about the world around them, and just as much enthusiasm for learning.

It’s going to be a great year!

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