Recently, I dropped the boys off for the first day of another school year.
I was expecting to feel a major sense of relief that half of the mess was heading off to do their art projects elsewhere. But what I really felt was complete and total terror that the women who now runs my children's lives won't love them. I know it's not a requirement but it sure makes their job easier.
When I roused our boys at 6 a.m., Rex, age 7, quickly pulled the covers over his head and assumed the fetal position. Last year, we failed at the German school and he's been taking Learn To Read English From Mother 101 since April. It's been mostly successful although his teacher tends to be kind of lazy if the weather is too hot or there's laundry to do or if it's Wednesday.
"Rexy," I said, "Time to get up! Today you get to meet your new teacher, Frau Von Wendel!"
By sheer luck -- if you could call it that -- Rex was selected for the German Immersion first grade class. It's nearly impossible to get into, they do math and science in Dutch and reading and writing in English. It's great for kids who have an affinity for learning languages.
I would like to say that Rex has such a talent, but after eight months surrounded by German speakers from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day, he still wasn't speaking any of it to anyone. That said there have been a handful of moments this summer when the kid will randomly spit some German sentences out and expect me to understand him.
When I finally talked him down from the bunk bed and bribed him into dressing and brushing his teeth, I knew we were halfway there. He's recently metamorphosed into Shy Guy when faced with new situations and has been worrying for the past two weeks that no one at school will like him.
"What if my teacher doesn't like me?" he asked the other day, "What if the other kids laugh at me?"
These words fell like bricks on my heart, I desperately wanted to assure him that everyone will love him and that school will be wonderful. Unfortunately, life doesn't work like that. Even Cinderella was made fun of and look how nice she was.
We went to new student orientation. As we headed out on the guided tour we passed through a long hall of first grade classes. All the rooms were dark and empty, but as we neared the end of the hall we saw a teacher decorating her room in preparation for the coming onslaught of children.
She looked out the door and waved right at Rex with a big smile. He turned to me, consumed by hopeful angst.
"Can I have that one, Mom? She looks really nice and I think she'll like me!"
It took every ounce of motherly control to keep myself from marching straight to the counseling office and demanding they give my child that nice, gentle lady.
As we slowly made our way to the cafeteria this morning to find Rex's teacher and class, he walked with his head down and his feet dragging. Part of me wanted to scoop him up and take him home where he could be assured love and friendship. As we waved goodbye before he entered his new classroom, I turned to the mom next to me and saw that she, too, was fighting tears.
"She's never been to school before ..." she said.
"Only one way to remedy that," I replied.
I guess the only way to move forward is to actually move forward, but easier said than done. Heaven bless these little children, the world is so consuming.
Annie Valentine is a wife, mother and columnist. Readers can contact her at email@example.com or visit her blog at regardingannie.wordpress.com.