No matter how long we've had to see it coming, the start of a new school year for the kids always blindsides us. Suddenly they are a year older, a grade higher. We can deny it no longer. Our society's institutions insist that we face it.
Starting tomorrow, Archer is in fifth grade, and in a new school -- intermediate school. We have to drive him out to the west side of town and leave him in this huge place with an entirely new procedure. He changes classes, has A days and B days with different schedules, and of course will be surrounded by strangers. My hope is that a few of the people from his gifted group in fourth grade will be on the same or similar class schedule and will help him out from room to room. But despite the anxiety of the first days, there's no doubt that Archer will take to a complex rotating schedule. I suspect what he does and when, and how it changes based on the day of the week, are all we'll hear about pretty soon.
As for Cady Gray, no worries -- she's a veteran at her elementary school, where she has two more years after this one. But that doesn't mean dropping her off is going to be a piece of cake. For one thing, I have to do it while Noel is shepherding Archer into his new routine. For another, it's second grade. I don't like facing the fact of my daughter growing up.
That's the real difficulty of the first day of school tomorrow. They level up, and we watch with a sinking feeling mixed with our pride. A new grade, a new year, and age six and nine -- wonderful as they were -- are in the rearview mirror.