Trying So Hard To Do Non-Workish Writing and I End Up Getting Emotional Over Napkins

Six years ago I started this blog as a cathartic reaction to feeling overwhelmed and frightened by the byzantine San Francisco public school lottery process. Writing about the process gave me and outlet to (white) whine while I worked through my many complicated feelings about my oldest children crossing the school threshold.

At the center of all my fretting was a sweet little girl who began her elementary school journey at our sweet little kindergarten. She liked school and things were going well enough. Then one day she asked me to pack her a napkin in her lunch.

“Are there napkins at the school?” I said.

“Yes, but I’m too scared to go ask for one.”

napkin

Be still my heart. I wanted to give that nervous baby twenty napkins stuffed in every pocket like a protective mama force-field. So the next day I made sure to pack one in her lunch, and I have given her a napkin in her lunch every day since. It’s one of those symbolic parenting things that we like to do and then write sentimental blog posts about.

Today that girl is confident and strong and helps little kids who are timid at her school. I won’t say she’s graceful because she’s not. But she’s still lovely on her awkward edge of adolescence. She’s tall. Almost as tall as me. It’s like hugging a friend. Except I have to remind myself that she’s still a child in so many ways.

And we recently had to do the school lottery thing again, this time to apply for middle school. We got the letter and all is well – we got our first choice school. I relaxed into the relief at surviving yet another school lottery nail-biter and then dove headfirst into the realty that my first baby is about to leave elementary school behind.

The Sunday evening after we got the middle school letter I packed lunches to get ahead for the next morning.  I grabbed a napkin out of habit to put in the girls’ lunch boxes. And the memory of that 5-year-old, too scared to get a napkin, made it hard for me to breathe for a good ten seconds. Before I knew what was happening, big juicy tears trailed my cheeks.

Six years in a flash. And this coming fall she will walk down the hill from her elementary school with the Big Kids to middle school. And push me away. And text. And have crushes. And gossip. And become elated. And become devastated. And want to dye her hair or shave it off. And wear clothes that are too revealing or that hide her developing body. And be a slob. And keep secrets. And do her own thing. And make her own lunch. And find her own damn napkins.

I will miss her being a part of the elementary school community – where our family will be for many years due to our gaggle of kids. I am grateful for kind teachers who inspire, for adult friends I have fallen in love with, and for many children who fill my heart like little nieces and nephews.

Sure, I still have my middle baby girl. Sure I still have an infant baby. I’m not done with elementary school years by a long shot. But there’s something primal in seeing that first kid move on. And knowing that she’s big enough and wise enough to get her own napkin in middle school.

8 thoughts on “Trying So Hard To Do Non-Workish Writing and I End Up Getting Emotional Over Napkins

  1. As the mother of a 20 year old and a 15 year old this totally touched my heart. It all goes so quick, yet every moment is just as precious as the next. Even when they are 20. Enjoy the middle school ride!

  2. Pass the paper napkins, please. I am bawling my eyes out. This hot mess is overwhelmed by the thought that your fabulous eldest child, and her totally unique former preschool student, will be off to middle school in a few short months! Time, it doesn’t fly. Sometimes it seems to race. An image just popped in my head of said child painting with acrylics on a canvas on the Green Room porch, in preparation for the center art auction. I can even see the colors of the paints. And then I think about the incredibly tall, incredibly stunning, incredibly eloquent pre-teen who came up to me at a staff retirement party a few years ago at that preschool and asked thoughtful and interested questions about what I’d been doing with my life! Lastly, I am thinking about the last time I saw the gang, in the locker room at the pool when mama still had a baby bump, and that incredible woman-child told me about her plans for the summer. Congratulations to her and her parents on getting their number one choice of middle schools! Felicitations for the journey ahead. It may be a bumpy ride you have to look forward to, but that kid is spectacular and she will be an equally spectacular teen, who will no doubt provide much inspiration for further Foggiest Idea posts!

    – Snotty is Sydney (Australia)

      1. 😉 Not sure why my comment posted twice! Apparently, I am extra overwhelmed! Feel free to delete the second one!

  3. Pass the paper napkins, please. I am bawling my eyes out. This hot mess is overwhelmed by the thought that your fabulous eldest child, and her totally unique former preschool student, will be off to middle school in a few short months! Time, it doesn’t fly. Sometimes it seems to race. An image just popped in my head of said child painting with acrylics on a canvas on the Green Room porch, in preparation for the center art auction. I can even see the colors of the paints. And then I think about the incredibly tall, incredibly stunning, incredibly eloquent pre-teen who came up to me at a staff retirement party a few years ago at that preschool and asked thoughtful and interested questions about what I’d been doing with my life! Lastly, I am thinking about the last time I saw the gang, in the locker room at the pool when mama still had a baby bump, and that incredible woman-child told me about her plans for the summer. Congratulations to her and her parents on getting their number one choice of middle schools! Felicitations for the journey ahead. It may be a bumpy ride you have to look forward to, but that kid is spectacular and she will be an equally spectacular teen, who will no doubt provide much inspiration for further Foggiest Idea posts!

    – Snotty is Sydney (Australia)

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