Another summer has come and gone. And, as we embark on a new school year, I cannot help but remember the chaos we experienced last year.
It was day one of first grade and to my surprise, my older daughter Emme approached going back to school with bravery and enthusiasm. She was so excited to start a new year. Our younger daughter Addy was starting her preschool journey. I vowed to have a smooth morning and get everyone off to class on time. So, I woke up extra early like a normal functioning adult and got myself ready first.
My kiddos woke up early with excitement much like Christmas morning. They followed all my directions. They got dressed, ate breakfast, allowed me to brush their hair and put on their shoes in record time. Then we posed for the ceremonial back to school photo montage. As I dropped of my 1st grader, I realized that this was the best morning I have ever had in my six years of being a mother. As I basked in my Leave it to Beaver glory, I knew instinctively that I would never feel like this again.
I posted the pictures on social media and soon the comments rolled in: "Cuties." "Love the outfits." "Your girls are so sweet!"
On this morning my girls were all those things. Let's be honest though — we all know that Facebook is the highlight reel. I love my friends, but the truth is they don't really know what feral animals my children can be.
My peaceful and perfect start to the day came to a screeching halt at pick up time — as I knew it would. It had just stopped raining, yet my older daughter insisted on taking her broken Frozen umbrella inside the school when picking up her sister. I knew it would invoke a riot. For those of you who don't have little girls, it isn't literally a frozen umbrella. We are talking Disney Frozen.
As luck would have it, the sky opens, and it starts to pour again as we exit the school. The baby who we lovingly refer to as the spirited one steals the Frozen umbrella and a fight ensues.
My oldest crossed her arms and stands in the rain in protest refusing to get into the car without her freaking broken umbrella. I had no choice but to shove her into the car Mommie Dearest style while yelling, "For the love of God!" My kid's daycare is like Fort Knox and there are cameras everywhere. At this point I am quite sure someone is writing down my license plate number.
The girls fought and cried all the way home. As soon as we walked through the door the girls ran upstairs to "pet" their new fish. Of course, I tell them, "If you pet the fish it will die" but onto other things. Addy had a potty accident just inches away from the toilet. Before launching the evening routine, I needed to halt what I was doing to clean her up first.
No time to go back and check on our new fish, Zoe and Livi. I had to start dinner, get the girls in the bathtub, throw in some laundry, pack lunches and layout their clothes for the next day.
As I get to work all I hear is silence. That is too quiet. If you have small children, you know quiet is not a good thing. Emme bounces downstairs and announces that Livi fish is sleeping. I don't think much of it because I need to finish dinner.
Then my hubby comes home. He decides to go check on the fish that we have had less than 24 hours and discovers a floater. R.I.P Livi fish. I want so badly to believe this was an accident but truthfully, I don't know. Did Emme squeeze it too hard, did she drop the castle on it? What happened?
It's now 8:30 at night and my husband decides to make an emergency trip to the pet store. "Flush the darn thing!" I yell. It's a freaking $4 fish. She killed it and doesn't get another one. As he puts the corpse into a plastic bag, he tells me he wants a refund. He returns victoriously from the pet store with an identical fish. Livi fish lives. So, what lesson have we inadvertently taught our daughter? Everything is replaceable? Aquatic life doesn't matter? She doesn't care, she has a brand-new fish! As we get ready for day two of school, I secretly pray no other fish in our hood have gone missing.
One year, six Beta fish and two puppies later, not much has changed since that chaotic day. Our mornings and nights are still a bit crazy, but I like to think we put the fun in dysfunctional. I do hope the first day of second grade and Preschool two will not be as eventful!
Lynn Cristina is a Wesley Chapel momma with two girls and works full time as a marketing manager. The girls' names are changed here so as not to embarrass their momma. She and her family love living in Wesley Chapel. Contact her at LCristina@tampabay.com.