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September 22, 2014

THE DIRT Brett Buckner: The first-day-of-school blues

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Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2014 12:11 pm | Updated: 12:14 pm, Sun Aug 10, 2014.

A red-faced father of one of Jellybean’s friends lumbered out from behind his SUV. Short of breath and with a late-in-life, tough-guy swagger that looked almost laughable from a man in an expensive suit, he prepared My Lovely Wife and me for what lay ahead.

“I almost got in a fight trying to get in here,” he said, a proud grin crawling up his face. “People were just stopping in the middle and I was screaming, ‘M-O-O-O-OVE’!  It’s insane.”

Welcome to the first day of school.

It’s been a pretty awesome summer. Taught Jellybean how to not drown and discovered a shared love for jigsaw puzzles. I introduced her to Punky Brewster and Iggy Azalea, and we watched tons of great movies including “Sharknado,” “Piranhaconda” and “Sharktopus vs. Pteracuda.” We went to the park about 100 times, and when it got so hot that the swings burned her legs, we went to Burger King so she could run amok in the plastic tunnels that look like germ incubators.

Jellybean defeated mono and read “Days of Frog and Toad” backwards … literally. She read the book so often as to memorize it, and in order to challenge herself, chose to read it backwards, out loud, a lot.

 Sadly, all good things must come to an end, so that less fun things can begin.

I braved the madness of Wal-Mart for back-to-school shopping, an experience so infuriating it made me cuss on Facebook. But seriously, would it be too much to ask to open another check-out lane? Or do they enjoy an angry mob of parents packed in like Vienna sausages, our hands full of 1-inch binders, glue sticks and composition notebooks?

My Lovely Wife was smart enough to not do her end of the shopping the day before school started.

When The Big Morning came, we were more than ready. Jellybean had gotten a stylish haircut and bought a new dress. Her lunch was packed and a favorite doll was picked out for the 3-minute drive to school.

Parking took another 15. We got closer to the gate at Disney World than to the front door of school on that first day.

We waded through grass heavy with dew and followed Jellybean to her classroom. We could tell she was nervous by how silly she was acting. Time was, when Jellybean got nervous, she licked things. Now, she talks in weird voices and acts likes she’s hopped up on brownie batter. We ushered her to a seat and waved goodbye. She smiled and started turning a little pink around the eyes from fighting back the tears.

My Lovely Wife and I walked down the busy hallway, shaking our heads at how we’d become the parents of a first-grader.

Not only that, but The Diva is going to be a senior in high school. This time next year I’ll be worrying about all-night keggers and unscrupulous upperclassman thinking they can outwit a supposedly gullible freshman.

Granted, I worry about that now, but when she’s in college it’ll practically be a state-sponsored after-school program. Those poor boys don’t stand a chance with that child. She won’t need Mace, brass knuckles or a butterfly knife tucked in the waist of her jeans (I’ll give them to her anyway). But with one of her get-away-from-me-before-I-devour-you glares, those boys’ll simply shrivel up and blow away.

It won’t be long before Jellybean will need that same “Firestarter” stare, but maybe it can wait until she’s in middle school.

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