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A Feral First Day of School

A relatable short story of two parents attempting to get their two children on the bus for the first day of school. Will they be successful? And what should they do if they are?

Jess looked forward to this day every year, and who could blame her? It is the day most parents countdown to and eagerly prepare for in anticipation. No, not Christmas. Not New Year’s either. It is that most revered day--the first day of school.

Her countdown that began on May 25, the day school let out for summer, is now officially over. Hello structure!

But first a second grader and a seventh grader had to make it on the morning bus. It sounds simple, but Jess and her husband Mark know better. Which is why they BOTH always took a day off from work on this sacred day.

First up is Grace, a proud and if we are being honest, the most disorganized member of a second-grade class to ever exist. Bookbags and lunchboxes prepared and inventoried last night, Jess discovers that apparently Grace transforms into a raccoon at night. The proof being that the entire contents of Grace’s sequined, smiley face bookbag have been emptied and scattered across the bedroom floor. With time in short supply, she instructs Grace to march downstairs for breakfast, while she gathers up the multi-colored victims of Grace’s raid. Folders, pencils, crayons—none were spared. The carnage is spread from wall to wall.

When Jess finds the inner fortitude to ask Grace WHY she did what she did, Grace crinkles her eyebrows in confusion and replies, “I wanted to see if my lucky emoji pencil was in there.”

“And you thought you needed to dump out everything in your bag, including the entire crayon and marker boxes, because it might have been in there? Grace, a pencil wouldn’t even fit in those boxes,” Jess responds.

“Yeah, I couldn’t find it, so I made sure to look everywhere. I found it later under my bed,” Grace explains, as if this is all perfectly logical. “I made sure to put it in my backpack.”

Jess whispers the serenity prayer to herself as she zips up the smiling bookbag for this feral child of hers. This will be funny one day, but not this day.

Grace makes it to the bus, as Jess notices a little too late that she is wearing mismatched socks and has torn her ponytail askew. Jess thinks of what her teacher will likely experience this year and makes a mental note to buy her a coffee shop gift card as anticipatory restitution.

Well, maybe more than one.

Now the attention turns to their seventh grader, Luke. Mark ensures that Luke is up and on schedule. Twenty minutes later, Luke has still not come downstairs. Mark tries calling his name once then twice and even three times. Mark heads up to the second floor and finds Luke fully dressed but dead asleep on top of his made-up bed.

“Luke, what are you doing man? The bus will be here in less than five minutes!” Mark shouts as he shakes Luke awake.

“Oh, OH!” Luke exclaims as the realization dawns on him.

Grabbing his bag, Luke dashes downstairs and grabs a fistful of granola bars and opens the garage door. Five seconds behind him Mark calls out, “Son, you think you might need to wear some shoes today?”

Luke looks down at his feet and sees only socks. Grabbing the closest thing possible, Luke goes for his yard shoes just inside the garage, slides them on, and makes a run for it.

As the school bus appears over the hill, Jess comes outside just in time to see Luke running for the bus stop.

“Is he…wearing mud splattered shoes…on the first day of school?” Jess hesitantly asks.

“Uh-huh, sure is,” Mark affirms as he rubs his chin.

“The ones that are coming apart at the soles?”

“That’d be the pair.”

“Well, at least PE isn’t until next week.”

“Yep, but he’ll learn a life lesson today. Maybe,” Mark answers as they both turn to go back inside.

Sitting at the kitchen table, both holding a coffee mug, they exhale a long sigh.

“We did it again. Another year in the books,” Jess says as she looks at Mark.

“We sure did. What do you want to do today? We got several hours,” Mark responds as he puts his mug on the tabletop.

“Hmm. We could do something really wild and unexpected. Just the two of us,” Jess replies as she raises an eyebrow.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“Yep, grocery store shopping. Just the two of us. No one else. Just you, me, and a buggy.”

“I love how your mind works. Peace and solitude amidst aisles of temptation, listening to the songs of our youth play overhead.”

“Yeah, I think we might make a good match,” Jess smiles.

Raising his mug to clink with Jess’s in cheers, Mark toasts, “Here’s to grocery store shopping with your best friend, who just so happens to be your spouse.”

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Charlotte A. Cason
Charlotte A. Cason

This was funny. Grateful my children didn't put me through that, and I always drove them to school. In Nebraska they just walked the few blocks to school. Made life much easier.

Holly Bills
Holly Bills

Sometimes children defy explanation. 😀

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