I had a fleeting moment of optimism this morning.

On my way downstairs, I saw Austin’s photo shoot for his first day of school. He’s hit or miss when it comes to pictures, so I was excited to see that not only was he complying with Meg’s request for pictures (both with and without the obligatory “first day of school” sign), but I was also touched when he wanted pictures with each of us individually and then one as a family.

What I failed to realize was that it was part of a cunning plan to delay actually having to go to school. I’ll give him this, he’s a clever little shit.

My first inclination that things weren’t as good as they appeared came as he was packing his snack.

“Mommy, will you open my juice box?”
“I can’t open it now, it’ll spill all over the place.”
“Then how am I going to get it open?”
“You ask your teacher to help you open it.”
“Oh. Actually, I just want a water bottle instead.”

Then came the negotiations. One thing I’ve realized about him is that he needs a win. No matter how small, he will incessantly bargain until he feels like he’s the one who ultimately made the choice. Unfortunately, he was totally striking out when it came to things we could concede.

“I don’t want to wear shoes.”
“I don’t have to go potty.”
“I want to sit in Leanne’s car seat.”
“I want you to carry me in.”

With that last one, he was victorious. But it was less a result of sheer willpower and more of a physical win by default. As Meg lifted him out of his car seat, he… hrm, how to describe this. Ok, ok, remember the facehuggers from the Alien movies? That’s a pretty good visual to describe Meg as we walked into the classroom.

I’ll skip the next 10 minutes. Suffice it to say, they weren’t pretty. This brings us to when Meg and I clearly have to leave but Austin was still attached to Meg’s neck like a parasite. Miss Michelle — god bless her angelic soul — came over and told us she really doesn’t mind dealing with it. She was brandishing a crowbar at the time, along with a look that said she’s clearly done this before.

The saving grace of this whole predicament is that, like a true parasite, Austin detached from Meg only to establish a new symbiotic relationship with poor Miss Michelle’s neck. He still smelled of perfume when he came home. But that was actually a good thing. I was expecting kicking and screaming, followed by a full on sprint out of the classroom after us. Instead, he buried his face into Miss Michelle in what one could optimistically call contentment.

Still unable to drink alcohol, I did the next best thing and went straight to Dunkin’ Donuts to request the strongest coffee they were legally allowed to sell me.

Epilogue:
He loved it. Miss Michelle said he was fine for the rest of the day. When he got home, he excitedly told me he got to be the bus driver. I don’t actually have a damn clue what that means, but I also really don’t care at this point. As long as he wasn’t proudly explaining to me that he shit his pants in class, I’m going to consider whatever he was telling me to be a good thing as long as he enjoyed it.

“Hey buddy, you excited for pre-school on Tuesday?!”
“No.”

Shit.

“It’s gonna be fun. Are you gonna make lots of friends?”
“No.”
“What about Miss Michelle? You liked her, right?”
“No.”

Shit. Shit. Shit.

“Leanne went there and she loved it.”

I’m dead serious, his response was:

“Can we stop talking about school?”

We have our share of issues with Leanne. The child will randomly start chewing her hair or mindlessly bite her blanket while watching TV, but asking her to use the same fork for both chicken and potatoes in a single meal sends her off the deep end and shaves another few minutes off of my life expectancy.

However, we did get lucky when it came to school. Meg and I walked her to her classroom, she kissed us goodbye, and that was that. No tears. Er, scratch that. No tears by Leanne. Meg and I bawled the entire drive home.

Austin, on the other hand, spent the entire pre-school open house latched onto Meg like a damn lemur. He’s still in the phase where he’ll lose his shit when the doorbell rings if you’re not carrying him, much less leaving him in a room full of strangers.

This has left Meg and I dreading dropping him off for the first time on Tuesday. For the past week or so, we’ve been strategizing about the best way to pull this off. It’s not going well.

  • Run in, literally drop him in the classroom, and run to the car, apologizing to the teachers profusely on the way out.
  • Drug the boy and leave him there asleep.
  • Blindfold him and say we’re going to Disney World, leaving it to his teacher to explain what the hell is going on when the blindfold is removed.

Perhaps “not going well” is a bit of an understatement.

On top of everything else, it’s also putting a strain on our marriage. We can’t come to an agreement on if it’s better to pack tequila or vodka in his backpack as a preemptive apology to his teacher.

Working from home full time, I’m constantly aware of the ebb and flow of the mood of the house. Today is one of the more interesting days.

Leanne is bored. I know this because despite noise canceling headphones, brain-rattling dubstep, and a locked door, I can hear her recurring announcement to the entire house of her boredom. Her sighs are deep enough to cause a pressure differential in the house and make my ears pop.

To be fair, this is largely a victory. This is the first time all summer she’s complained about being bored. Sure, she’s complaining enough to make it feel as if it’s been going on for weeks, but she made it until the last day of summer vacation before I entertained locking her out of the house.

Meg, on other hand, is literally dancing in the kitchen. I haven’t seen her this happy since… well, probably last year around this time. She’s not explicitly attributing it to school starting, but at the same time, she totally looks like a Staples “back to school” commercial right now. Meg’s elation is further annoying Leanne in her boredom, which in turn makes Meg happier that she’ll be in school tomorrow.

This spiral of misery is complicated by the back to school outfit discussion that took place earlier.

“I don’t have any clothes.”

That was from my 8 year ol– hang on, not yet.

“I need new clothes for school.”

Ok, now I can finish that thought. My “8 year old going on 15”.

I raised the volume in my headphones, but still heard a few choice nuggets.

“You can’t just wear flip flops, you need sneakers on gym days” (suffice it to say, that one was Meg)
“I don’t like my sneakers.” (that one should be pretty obvious)

Meanwhile, Austin is running around the house — I shit you not — yelling “I’M NAKED.” I went downstairs to get coffee. Upon opening my office door, his streaking, little white butt cheeks flew by.