We had a big day on Friday: meet-the-teacher at L.'s school, and then off to mega super store for school supplies shopping. I'm usually the one who ends up shopping for school supplies, but this time T. and I headed off to a toy store to buy a birthday present for our neighbor, and I left Scott to work on the supplies. "Does it always cost this much?" he asked me when we met up again at the checkout. L. was dancing with excitement--for years, school supplies have been the only truly good part of this back-to-school business. The final bill came to $118--not much at all compared to other years. "Are you kidding me?" I told Scott. "We got off easy this year!" "Anyway, Papa," L. chimed in. "It's not about the money, you know, it's about EDUCATION." ************* I can scarcely believe that it's L.'s first day of school today. His first day of fifth grade. On Friday we set out for meet-the-teacher carrying our customary folder filled with a fresh version of our letter of introduction to the teacher (L. helped write it this year), and a collection of useful handouts we provide. Sometimes I still feel a twinge of worry now and again about whether or not the teacher will appreciate the information and advice: will we come off as too strong? Too much the helicopter parents? Did we change the letter of introduction enough this year to reflect the good strides made? Did we change it too much? But every year, as I stand in yet another new classroom, in front of yet another new teacher, and the promise and potential is unrolled out around us (and the challenges lie hidden in the darker corners of the classroom--or maybe there won't be any this year?), I hear the voice of a good friend again who once told me, "never be afraid to advocate for your child" and, suddenly, it doesn't matter anymore, what anyone might think. We walked L. around and watched him case the room, inspecting the shelves of books, the science equipment, the windows and the views (for L. the orientation of his space is very important--it has to feel right), and it all felt good to me. It also felt so very different. So BIG. So fifth-grade. "What do you think?" we asked L. as we headed across the parking lot. "Interesting," he said. My Mama heart needed more from him; some gushing reassurance that it was going to be okay, that this year would be good, that we would take right off from where we left off in May, that he'd be happy in that classroom, that he'd have found his place at last. I turn interesting around and around in my head, examining it from every angle. Is this good? Bad? What can I do with it? What will he do with it? In the end, I'll take interesting, and run with it...I'll hold it close to my heart, feed off it during these first few weeks of school, and hope it will grow into so much more.