“Mom?” he said in a serious tone…and put down his phone.
Mom alert! He put his phone down? He never puts his phone down, this was serious.
I put on a casual smile to mask my concern. “What?”
Noah took a deep breath. “I’m just going to say it: I’m taking the bus to school on the first day.” His eyes read: apologetic with a little fear around the edges.
I put my hand to my forehead and faux moaned, “I have to miss the excitement of the drop-off lane on the first day of school? When all the noob middle school parents are trying to figure out where to go and all the rude old-timers are playing Me First!?
He smiled and went back on his phone, probably making plans with his neighborhood buddies about what bus stop to meet at and when.
I hoped he factored in porch photo time.
First there were two
When we moved into this house, our oldest, Bekah, was starting kindergarten. On the first day of school she dutifully posed on the porch with a new (read: clean) backpack over a blue dress. Her brother, Luke, was starting preschool that year and stood with a proud smile next to his sister.
Every year they smiled next to each other to commemorate the first day of school just like the family next door, and next door to them…all down the street kids posed, smiled…click. The photos are taken inside the house, at the bus stop, or under a tree. I have a friend who takes them by a wall sized blackboard with the kids’ grades written on it to mark time. Where and how doesn’t matter, taking them does.
Then there were three
When Noah joined his brother and sister on the front porch for preschool, his siblings were in fifth and seventh grades — and for years the three posed in varied degrees of willing participation. For all of Noah’s school years the tradition has involved that photo joining the long parade of first-day-of-school photos on Facebook. This year smiling faces, new haircuts and favorite outfits by a tree, on a porch, by the fireplace, wherever, have been a break from the rest of the serious news. We need to know that news, but we also need to be reminded that normal and happy things are happening in our world, too.
And two, again, until one
My three were photographed together until the year that my oldest started to commute to college. She graciously posed alone the first year, but not the second. The boys were by themselves for the last two years…
…and this year Noah is alone. His big brother is away at college and his sister is taking a semester off to travel. I did ask via text for a first-day-of-class photo from said older brother. He obliged that very moment and I now have one of him taken in a bathroom stall. (Keep it classy, Son.)
Like the houses next door, next door to them and across this country…at some point all first day of school porch pictures will stop.
First there were two.
Then there were three.
And again, two.
This year there is one.
In several years there will be none. I’ll be delighted to never drive a drop-off lane again, never hunt for brand specific items on the back-to-school list, and never adjust a kid from summer hours to school hours. I will still be smiling over the parade of first day of school photos out of nostalgia and knowledge that the beaming face above a Girls Never Give Up T-shirt, a superhero backpack or Doctor Who lunchbox are our future. All of ours, up the street, around the town and around the globe.