Today was my kids first day of school in Newfoundland. It’s bittersweet for me. I will finally have all that time to read, write, cook, and paint, but I just realized that to have all that, I have to be alone. Now I’m lonely. I’m already missing their little voices.
Last night, as I was tucking them in, I gave them all a great speech about being themselves and about making new friends in a new school. Here’s how it went:
Me to my 13 y/o son:
Goodnight, my dear. Are you nervous for tomorrow?
13y/o (eyes glued to iphone):
Well, I’m sure it will be great. Just remember to be yourself and be a good friend. Listen to your teacher and…
13 y/o interrupts:
Me to my daughters age 10 and 7:
Goodnight, my loves. Are you nervous for tomorrow?
10 & 7 y/o:
*Talk for 20 minutes about what earrings they will wear and whether they want pumpkin oatmeal or biscuits for breakfast and how they will arrange their notebooks in their lockers and what shoes would be best with what jeans.
You’ll be brilliant. Just be yourself and be a good friend and listen to your teacher and…
10 & 7 y/o:
*Talk for 15 more minutes about what their teachers may be like and if anyone they know will be in their class and what earrings they should wear and maybe they should wear their high tops instead and maybe they want bananas with their oatmeal.
*Shuts door and refills wine glass. Thinks about what I really wanted to tell them.
Me to son: Be a good boy. Be kind and empathetic to your peers. Be respectful to your teachers. Listen. Focus. Smile. Laugh. Eat all your lunch. Read. Make friends with everyone, even the kids you don’t like or who don’t like you. Be a leader. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Raise your hand. Ask questions. Be confident, even when you are scared and nervous. Take pride in your work. Pay attention. Wear deodorant. Know I love you. Know I am your biggest advocate. Be nice to the girls
Me to daughters: Be good girls. Be kind and empathetic to your peers. Be respectful to your teachers. Listen. Focus. Smile. Laugh. Eat all your lunch. Read. Make friends with everyone, even the kids you don’t like or who don’t like you. Be a leader. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Raise your hand. Ask questions. Be confident, even when you are scared and nervous. Take pride in your work. Pay attention. Wear deodorant (well at least the 10 y/o). Know I love you. Know I am your biggest advocate. Be nice to the boys. Oh, but remember something, one day, those boys will try to kiss you, and if you want them to, that’s ok, but if you don’t, tell them no, and if they don’t listen, punch them in the mouth. I’m absolutely serious. Don’t hold back. Let those little bastards have it. (note to self, teach daughters how to punch like they mean it) And if you ever, EVER, feel uncomfortable in any situation, no matter what it is, if you ever, deep down in your stomach, feel like something just isn’t right, don’t do it. Just don’t do it. It’s never worth it. Trust yourself. Stand up for yourself because some days you may be the only one who will. Walk away. And if you get teased or bullied, there are adults who can help you. Find those adults. They are on your side. They may be teachers, or counselors, or your grandparents, or your dad, or me. And if you have to eat lunch by yourself tomorrow or stand by the wall at recess feeling sad and lonely, don’t worry. The day will end and you will be home soon. I will make you a cup of that orange tea you like, and I will get out the electric blanket, and I will sit on the couch with you, and I will rub your back and braid your hair and tell you how beautiful and perfect you are (because you are), and I will make you spaghetti and root beer floats, and we can watch Say Yes to the Dress or House Hunters marathons because whether it’s tomorrow, or some other distant future tomorrow, one day, bad shit will happen, and you will have a horrible time of it, and your friends will be awful bitches, and someone will write terrible things about you on Facebook. Or maybe, one day, when you get older, you will lose your job, or your lover, or maybe you will get sick or have a car accident, or maybe you will get pregnant too soon, and maybe you will have a miscarriage or an abortion. Maybe you will drink too much or spend too much money, and maybe one day you will lose your way and make some really bad choices for your life. No matter what, no matter what it is, call me. Come home. And even if what you have to tell me brings me to my knees, I will love you because you are mine and you are perfect, and I will tell you this while I make you that orange tea you like, and then I will listen to whatever else you have to tell me, and I will hold you while you cry, and maybe I will cry too, and then we can watch those old black and white movies we like, the ones where we know all the songs, and we will eat spaghetti on the couch, and we will have as many goddamn root beer floats as we can drink, and if you are old enough, we will add a little vodka, but we can talk about that some other time.