Today marks one week since Asher went back to school and I’m still feeling guilty over an event that transpired the morning of his first day. It’s likely it has had zero effect on him and he has already forgotten. Yet, the guilt is there and I’ve learned yet another lesson. I feel motherhood never stops teaching you what it really important.
As parents, many of us make a huge production out of the first day of school. Although, I think that’s another fact of life brought to us by social media. Pretty sure before facebook and cell phone cameras were around, kids were just thrown on out the door and onto the bus. But thanks to Pinterest we now feel the need to take 132 photos with a sign stating the date, their age, grade, and favorite foods.
Approximately two weeks before the first day school, it occurred to me that Asher didn’t yet have a “first day” outfit. I picked up an orange Chaps polo, from Kohl’s, that was on ridiculous clearance for like $7.00. And an even less expensive pair of navy shorts from Target. Summer in western New York has been a scorcher this year and the first few days of school were going to be the same.
I knew the red and black sneakers my husband let him pick out wouldn’t match. I’m not a fan, but whatever. I’m pretty sure I’ve been the one to pick out almost every pair of shoes he’s worn the last few years, with the exception of a cute pair of brown leather dressier boots that my husband picked up last fall. (A+, husband!) So, a few days before the start of school, I grabbed two pair of fresh slip on canvas sneaks for him to wear with shorts on the warmer days. They are identical to two pair he already owns and loves, but cleaner. I had told my husband, “I’ll grab size ones”. He said the sneakers he just bought him were thirteens. I couldn’t remember if the slip-ons I’d bought previously ran small or big and Asher was visiting his Mom, so I made the shopping trip solo and bought size thirteens.
Fast forward to the first day of school. (Asher returned home at 7pm the evening before). Asher gets dressed and is lookin’ spiffy. He brushes his teeth. I put a little gel in his hair so he’s extra spiffy for his first day and he then heads to his room to put his shoes on. And as I’m scrambling to finish packing Quinn’s diaper bag and my lunch it hits me that he has not tried the shoes on. And this kid has a lot to say about how shoes fit. And then my fears are confirmed- the shoes are too small. So, he comes out with the red and black sneakers on with his orange blue outfit and my vision of first day perfection is shattered and I turn into a much less dramatic version of “Mommie Dearest”. I said, “Nope. No way. You look ridiculous”. I told him he could wear the khaki and orange pair of boat shoes (that he tried on and OK’d last year, wore a few times, then boycotted because they were “too big”). He tried them on without a fight but said he didn’t like them. I expected this, because of his boycotting them the previous year but told him, “They will be fine for one day”.
I continued finishing up morning routines and hear my husband puff, “Fine- just wear whichever are comfortable”. After Asher had been dramatically throwing himself on the floor and whining. (Yeah, he’s 7.) So, because of his behavior, which wasn’t that of a seven year old, I walk in his room and more or less tell him to suck it up, it’s not the end of the world, and be a big boy. He’s balling at this point. I calmly tell him how ridiculous this is, explain we will have new shoes, to wear on the hot days, by the next day and this isn’t the end of the world. He calmed down, his tears were wiped, and we get ready to head outside for blotchy faced pictures. Just then, I see the bus approach…fifteen minutes before we are expecting it. Shit. Asher’s mother, who was also expecting the bus later, wasn’t at our house, yet. Just as we are running outside, we see her pull in. My husband and I looked at each other knowing this spelled disaster. When we saw the bus, I thought we were in the clear. Not that we want her to miss his first day of school, but knew that if she pulled in at this instant, the tears would start again. We’ve been there before. He lays it on as thick as he can for her and then she coddles him, making the situation a thousand times worse. Every.Single.Time. Without her there, we’d take hurried pictures of him in front of the bus and he’d be on his way. But no, that’s far to easy and the universe had other plans, probably to teach me the lesson I’ve learned from this very day. So, my husband waved the bus on, knowing she loops back by later. As expected, Asher had a ridiculous sob fest enabled by his Mother. He eventually got through it. We managed a slew of pictures and he got onto the bus with a smile on his face once it returned.
It wasn’t until I got to work that this deep feeling of regret came over me. Was it really worth that? Was it worth starting his first day of school off in tears? He just wanted to wear his brand new (ugly) sneakers that he picked out. That’s all. He’s 7. Just because we want him to look nice as a representation of ourselves, doesn’t mean his happiness should suffer. He’s a kid. I sat there that morning telling him it wasn’t a big deal, yet I was the one making a big deal out of it. I apologized that evening and the next day I laid out a red star wars shirt with dark shorts that he could wear his brand new red and black sneakers.
He has since worn those sneakers each day he’s been with us. They have yet to match an outfit. The socks my husband picks out to go with them are too tall and look silly with his shorts. But, that’s okay. He loves them. I’ve had my days as a kid. He deserves to enjoy his. He’s happy and that’s the only thing that matters in this world.
But I still hate those shoes.