Wound Up and Well Adjusted


When I was little, my cousin Brian and I spent hours playing in my grandparent’s basement. There was a 1950s metal dollhouse I loved, a trike bike that we’d ride a little too fast around the center staircase, and a few other old toys that had been our mothers and our aunts when they were children. Among them, two metal tops that would spin for an impressively long time after you pumped the handle on the top to wind it up. I remember that one of them, which featured rather benign circus artwork when it was still, would blossom into a rainbow when I would set it to spinning, letting it unwind.

So there’s your metaphor. Here’s how it applies to last week:

I knew it would be an adjustment. Back to school, but not back to our school. And ah, summertime. I get used to writing with all the background noise, and having little people deliver my lunch to my desk and talk me into taking a break at the pool. I get comfortable.

Anyway: three different schools; two of them new. I was excited, but decidedly uncomfortable.

Day one saw me confidently driving Cate to her new school, navigating the car line and arriving back home just in time to take Thomas to his bus stop. I had this. After I dropped Thomas off, I came back home and walked Henry down to his bus stop. There I am, following along behind him, taking photos as if he was heading off to his first day of school ever. Of course, being Henry, he didn’t mind; he probably wished I could come along and photograph his entire day.

Henry’s bus was late, but I waited anyway. By the time I got back to my desk it was well past time to start working. But who could focus on work anyway? My stomach hurt, I had horrific pains shooting through my head and the vein in my neck felt like it might explode at any second; I was surely dying. It couldn’t possibly be tension or worry. nah.

Later that day….I left my house approximately 100 hours before I needed to in order to get to Cate’s school. I was that freaking excited to see how her day went. Sigh of relief, she looked exactly the same when she got back in my car. She was, however, stressed out that she still didn’t have the right uniform shirt and gave me the side-eye because, yeah, I totally waited until the last minute to order them.

One down, two to go. I walked to Henry’s bus stop where I watched him get off the bus, because: first day of kindergarten. Wait, I mean middle school.

If there was any kid I figured would ace the first day of middle school, it was kid president. I forgot that this kid is just like me; lockers and schedules and large project assignments had him talking a nervous 100 miles per hour, both excited and stressed.

I spent the ten minutes waiting for Thomas’ bus and scraping all the polish off my nails–my go-to solution for both large and small levels of stress. So I was all geared up for Thomas to walk off that bus and let me have it. It wouldn’t be the first time he vented all his worries to me after keeping them bottled up all day.

“How was your day?” I asked, trying not to visibly flinch in the process.

“It was awesome!” he replied. Say what? I hurried home to write that in his baby book under “first words.”


….I’m doing better today. Probably because John rightly pointed out that I’d have a lot less personal stress (and more time to work) if I let the boys walk to and from the bus and didn’t spend an extra 5 hours sitting in Cate’s car line.

This morning, after Henry left to catch the bus alone, I waited an entire five minutes before I decided to take a walk (what?! sometimes I exercise). I didn’t go all the way to his bus stop–just far enough so I could see that he was, indeed, perfectly fine.

New school year is a go. It seems that my kids are pretty well-adjusted, after-all. Even I’m not as wound up as I was a few days ago….and I’m pretty confident there’s a spinning rainbow up ahead.

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