Thursday, August 21, 2014

Keep Waving That Duck

ca. 1992
It's the first day of school in Small Town this week! Wooo! And for the first time in, oh, FOREVER, we are not sending at least one darling moppet off to school. (We are excluding anyone who has already received at least one college degree, and Boy#2, I'm looking at you when I say I hope you wrote your name on each and every one of your crayons before you showed up in the lab for your fourth year of doctoral studies this morning.)

My Facebook feed has been positively lousy with shiny-faced first day students and I was feeling a little left out until I remembered that this is TBT* and who cares if I've never participated before? Today is a whole new shiny-faced day. 

The picture that illustrates today's post is not from the first day of school but it was taken shortly thereafter, and it makes me laugh. In it the Boys range from seven months to six years old (clockwise from top: #1, #3, #4, #2) and I distinctly remember the taking of that picture among the hundreds we've taken over the years.

It was shot at the preschool where Two and Three spent two mornings each week, and I had brought One in from the "real" school where he was now a first grader so that we could have a Christmas-letter-worthy portrait. The photographer was waving a stuffed duck over the camera to bring out the smiles but because he was a first grader One was just too cool for this baby school and he was. not. going to smile.

"Ooooh, look at Mr. Quackers!" the photographer cooed. "He's going to quack up if everyone doesn't smile!"

The youngers thought it was hilarious. One did not.

"Come on, One, smile," I coaxed him.

Still nothing. So I brought out the big guns.

"If you don't smile, there will be no Happy Meal for you. Just one little smile."

So one little smile, a tiny little fake quirking up of one side of a mouth. was just what we got in that picture. That, and an indication that we were at the starting line of a run during which we would be reminded over and over again that as parents, we can be the boss of when and where they go to school, and of when and where they eat and sleep, and pretty much of any external you can name, but we are not the boss of their emotions and you can wave that stuffed duck as much as you want but a big smile is not happening.

Good luck, all you parents of school-aged children out there. Keep waving that duck.

 *Throwback Thursday, aka the day bloggers who don't have a topic are off the hook.

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