Back to the Grind


By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

I woke up, blinked, and poof—summer was done. Just like that. And it seems I’m still in a bit of a daze about it. Yes, I woke up extra early today. I hesitantly woke the children up much against their will: there was a yawn, a rollover, and a quiet plea for a little more time under the covers. But, I had to do it. Much against my own compassion for what it is to be a wee one on the first day of school, plus my own desire to simply cuddle my babies to my chest and keep them home, I had to play Mommy and be tough—well, act tough, anyway, for their sakes.

My preparation and anxiety from the night before proved to be helpful: clothes were set out, backpacks were packed, and the lunch menu already pre-planned. I washed the little one, dressed her up in clothes she agreed to wear, and tied up her hair as best as I could without any resistance, which usually happens when I put her hair up in pig-tails. So far, so good.

Breakfast was set, vitamins chewed, and the kids miraculously didn’t argue about which channel to watch on T.V.—YTV or Treehouse, which in the past meant a long and endless tirade of whining and drama that only raised my stress level and magically turned me into a frothing tyrant-referee desperate to diffuse an inevitable violence between two adamant, stubborn children willing to fight to the very end in order to watch either Toopy and Binoo or Scaredy Squirrel—a fight I really wanted to be no part of.

binoo squirrel - collage***

It seemed the morning wasn’t going to be a dreadful start to the fall as forewarned. We walked together, backpacks, and nervous anticipation in tow. Other children and their families in the community were also out in their new shoes, new haircuts, and bustling strides, eager to reconcile with old friends, and former classmates, to size up their potentially great or grave, new teachers—it was, after all, the luck of the draw.

The pre-determined personality of a teacher held the promise of either a glorious or unfortunately grotesque year. This subtle fear was apparent in both the hushed whispers between parents and the over-compensating cackles of kids who grew a couple more inches over the summer holidays. It was a chaotic buzz in the school yard, which marked the beginning of another school year, a testimony to new routines, and bigger challenges. It meant, too, a time to let go.

While I didn’t get an opportunity to meet Michael’s Grade 5 teacher in person because she was late in arriving onsite, I was still able to successfully take my daughter all the way to the other side of the school in greeting her new Senior Kindergarten teacher before the bell rang.

Michael was preoccupied in speaking with old friends, comparing notes on who ended up on the same roster, and therefore, in the same class to be overly concerned about the formalities of goodbye and good luck from his mother. Thankfully, he was still okay with his Mom giving him a hug goodbye.

Xara, on the other hand, professed she didn’t need a hug from me, that she was now in Senior Kindergarten, and therefore called to be a leader—more specifically, a Bumblebee Leader—a role model to the new kids in Junior Kindergarten who would inevitably need to be shown what to do. Uh-huh, okay.

I did, however, introduce her to her new teacher and she shyly said, “Hi,” before joining her classmates in line. The bell rang, we waved goodbye to one another, and off she went, sure of herself, telling me on the way to school that she knew to put her indoor shoes on, once she got inside, and to put her extra pack of clothes in her new cubby. She is, after all, an expert now.

As for me, I’m still dazed at the success of the morning, clinging to the thought of my children’s safety and success, hoping for the best for them, and missing them, just the same.

But, we’re still here. And even though the future continues to meet us directly, and always too soon, I’m begrudgingly happy to wish summer goodbye and hello to fall, the onslaught of cooler weather, cozier fashion, and a tizzy of new, upcoming books—and yes, to more hand-painted portraits of the my daughter’s creative imagination and marked-up reports of my son’s potential success in multiplication and problem-solving in Grade 5 math.

(Better that, than the news of a first-time girlfriend or boyfriend for each one of them! Then we’re talking about an all-out Zombie Apocalypse for Mommy—and we don’t want that.)

The kids' first day of school, 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The kids’ first day of school, 2014. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.


What’s your First Day Back at School been like?

What are you looking forward to learning this year? If not for yourself, your children?

What goals are you looking forward to achieving this year? If not for yourself, for your children?

Which books do you look forward to reading this fall?


Hope you have a great day back to school—and back to the grind!

(If it’s any compensation, just think of all the new books you get to read this year.)


zara cat stamp



2 thoughts on “Back to the Grind”

  1. Your kids are adorable! My oldest son is starting SK at a new school and it’s been a mixture of excitement and resentment because he loved his old school and had very tight relationships with the teacher and his friends. But his new teacher seem lovely, so I’m sure he’ll get settled soon.

    1. Aw…it’s the best age, isn’t it? But, kids are so resilient aren’t they? I’m sure he’ll fall in love with his new school in no time. Hope he enjoys. Lots to learn—and read. 😀

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