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Back to School Jitters

I’ve got mixed feelings about my daughter going back to school — a rough transition time.

I can’t decide how to start this post:

Option #1: School started this morning. Thank God! I’m home, alone, for the first time in 3 months. I love my kids, but I can’t function without a little time at home to regroup.

Option #2: School started this morning. Oh my God! Another transition! It’ll take Natalie a good month to adjust. That means that the next month is going to be hell.

I’m not the only one in my household who has mixed feelings about the start of school. Both Aaron and Natalie faced the first day of school with a crazy-making combination of excitement and apprehension. Aaron, because it’s his first day at Ames’ huge middle school. Natalie because, well, because she’s Natalie! And because she has attention deficit disorder (ADHD.)

Yesterday, from 3:00 to 4:00 pm, kids were invited to visit school to find their classrooms, meet their teachers, and drop off their school supplies. I picked Natalie up from daycare at about 2:50 to take her to school for a quick visit.

Nat got along great during the visit. She loved her new teacher, Mrs. Morken, on sight. The principal, the special ed teachers, her first grade teacher Mrs. Junck, and other school personnel greeted her like a beloved celebrity. What a difference between this experience and her first day of summer school.

When we got home, however, Nat immediately fell apart. She turned on Don’s iPod, and turned the volume way up. She took money out of a drawer that she knows is off limits. She pinned the cat to the floor with one knee, and “petted” him too roughly, making loud nonsense sounds in his face. When I stopped her she turned on me. Arms and legs flailing, she scratched me down the length of one arm.

I put her in time out. “Wrestle with your blanket, squeeze it as hard as you can,” I said. “Take some deep breaths. Use your words. Are you excited? Scared?”

Eventually she regained some control, but she stayed squirrelly all night.

This morning we arrived at school on time — with glasses on, hair combed, teeth brushed. Nat kissed me a dozen times, but let go of me to join her class without excessive clinging.

I’m expecting her to let it all out tonight — the pent up energy from trying to be good, the excitement, and the fear.

I hope that — just and hour now and then — of this rare peace and solitude will help me to survive Natalie’s adjustment. I have a feeling I’ll need all the help I can get!