By Missie Mayhem
The Sunday before Day One at our twin sons’ new middle school, we caught a morning flight from Miami to San Francisco. My husband wanted to save money with a redeye flight, but I put my foot down. The kids need to get ready for school, I told him. I thought my plan would give us time to get home for frozen pizza, hose the sand out of their hair, and buy two of those new Munch Boxes with self-cooling thermology they’d been nagging me for.
As it turns out, the plane was late, so we had to skip the family dinner and school supply shopping. But that’s why God invented fast-food takeout and paper bags, right?
After 20 consecutive days at the beach, Sammy started whining about not wanting to go to sixth grade. I tried to brace him: “Honey, you’re not going back to elementary school, so you better get used to it.” My wise counsel didn’t have the intended effect. Somewhere over the Rockies, he began whimpering, and when he saw the silhouette of San Francisco in the sunset, hyperventilation took hold.
“I’m … not … going,” he said between gasps.
“Do you know how many deprived kids around the world would happily eat their shoes to attend your school?” I pointed out.
“Then let them!” Sweat appeared on his upper lip.
I started to panic too. “You need to get a hold of yourself,” I said through gritted teeth. “I have to go back to work tomorrow.” The flight crew was giving us the eye. “I’ll give you a new iPod if you can just calm down.”
Jacob wasn’t complaining, so I assumed he was ready for his new life in middle school. Granted, he’d been playing video games 24/7 until blisters appeared on his thumbs. When he was asked to put away his Game Boy at takeoff, the nervous energy had to go somewhere. His legs began jiggling with maniacal intensity, and I tried to distract him by suggesting he do the math problems he’d been asked to complete over the summer.
“Not now, Mom!”
“It’s only 10 pages. You’re so smart — you'll finish it in no time!"
Nothing worked until my husband threatened to take away his Game Boy. That roused his inner Einstein.
By the time we got home, both kids were complaining that they wanted a treat for the last day of summer. I let them stay up until 11:30 watching Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith.
The next morning was like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride to hell and back. We slept in. I surprised the boys with matching school outfits their grandmother had sent. They burst into tears. I explained they had no choice but to wear them anyway because nothing else was clean.
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