Just Write: Preparations

August 13, 2013

Just Write.

Who are these preparations for? The Minxes or me? I don’t know the answer, but preparing we are. Preparing for the maiden voyage to middle school. For a bus ride to elementary school without a sister by her side–the first time ever. For juggling schedules that do not match.

Preparation is essential. We can’t afford surprises.

The family calendar is riddled with scrawls in rainbow colors: dropoff times, pickup times, back-to-school nights, appointments, deadlines. That colorful jumble is my job, and it’s handled. It’s by far the simplest task.

It’s trickier to shop for clothes, now that one hatchling has to shop in the women’s section and has gone up a bra size. She also suddenly has her own sense of style; no longer are the days I could pick out clothing without her assent. She scrutinizes things I hold up, weighing possibilities. I pluck a denim dress from a rack at the Gap and she pauses.

“Huh. I don’t know…I don’t think that really screams ‘me,’ you know?”

The item that does apparently scream “me?”

A camouflage jacket.

I stare at the jacket as I push the cart around the store. My kid is a Camo Girl? When did that happen? How did I miss it?

I show my husband the jacket and he grins. “Girding the loins for battle?”


Navigating the jeans section is the sixth circle of Hell.

Ditto the shoe department. Sequined turquoise Mary Janes? I don’t think so. Neon purple Chuck Taylors? Nope. I’m an ogre, and I know it.

Miss M. is still blissfully indifferent to fashion–if it doesn’t itch or doesn’t pinch, it’s good by her. Bless the stars.

When shopping is finished, I puddle into the couch and don’t move for hours. Except to pour a glass of wine. Wine is an emergency provision.

I bribe our babysitter to take them to the SuperTarget for school supplies–that freakshow would do me in. The SuperTarget school supply section eats weak and exhausted parents and spits them out, waiting for fresh victims.

I grill Miss M. on her bus number. I do so to the point where I enter the room and before I can open my mouth, she rolls her eyes and says, “243, mom.”

Miss D. fiddles with the radio on the way to the spa. She wants her upper lip waxed and a manicure before school begins–things she never would have thought of a year prior. I grip her hand as her eyes water, flinching at the rip of the linen strip. She doesn’t make a sound, jaw locked and determined.

After a thorough and excruciatingly long examination of bottles of nail polish, she chooses a vampy red.

I stagger through the overcrowded grocery aisles for sack lunch and snack items, stock up on bottled water. I label school supplies. I dutifully shlep a Greek salad to the PTO Teacher Welcome Luncheon.

I buy a decorative basket and fill: razors, shaving cream, Dove body wash, deodorant, facial cleansing wipes, acne cream, peach-scented body lotion, lightly tinted lip gloss, a surprise container of pale powder blush that is sure to shock and delight.  I place the basket in D.’s bathroom. Ammunition. Armor.

I write names and phone numbers on a notecard and attach it to Miss M.’s backpack, even though she knows those numbers by heart.

I conceal emergency sanitary napkins, tampons and quarters in a black pouch at the bottom of D.’s.

These preparations, these precautions–they’re really a mother’s prayer.

With these things in our pocket, we can sleep easy tonight.

If we can sleep at all.


No one’s gonna hurt you
No one’s gonna dare.
Others can desert you
Not to worry, whistle, I’ll be there.
Nothin’s gonna harm you
Not while I’m around.

                   —From Sweeney Todd

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Jamie August 13, 2013 at 7:13 am

Beautiful. You are the best mom. Ps I think me and D have he same fashion sense…


TKW August 13, 2013 at 5:38 pm


Camo girls, unite!


SmithShack71 August 13, 2013 at 7:23 am

Dude, I totally sweat and practice breathing when school shopping.
Actually, I do this with any shopping. But school supplies are the worst!



TKW August 13, 2013 at 5:27 pm


What is with the school supply list? I had to buy 48 pencils. Sharpened. Why is 48 the magic number?


Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon August 13, 2013 at 7:40 am

This is going into my ‘how to be a mom manual’. And 10 or 11 years from now I hope these words will reassure me that we will survive.


TKW August 13, 2013 at 5:28 pm


For now, just enjoy Libby in a Box. xoxo


Shannon August 13, 2013 at 7:44 am

Crap! I suddenly feel very unprepared.
Wishing D luck on her first day of middle school. And you, too.


TKW August 13, 2013 at 5:29 pm


Even with all of these anal-retentive preparations, I am still not prepared. Not eve close. Are we ever?


Annette August 13, 2013 at 8:10 am

Kate wore a hoodie to middle school. Every. Single. Day. She survived, and so will Miss D!


TKW August 13, 2013 at 5:30 pm


Well, that Kate. She is something. Love you.


Erica August 13, 2013 at 10:25 am

You are AWESOME. xoxo


TKW August 13, 2013 at 5:30 pm


If a neurotic small dog is awesome, then yes. I am. :)


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me August 13, 2013 at 2:52 pm

“Preparation is essential. We can’t afford surprises.” That is exactly how we have to live around here – surprises ruin everything in a family of three with ADD/ADHD. Every detail has to be in place or we are all doomed.

In the meantime, we are here doing much of the same – beginning preparations for Kindergarten. How the heck did that happen already? It’s intense. More for us than for Kidzilla, I think. But holy cow there is so much to think about.

You thought of everything to send those girls into battle (and battle it is indeed). Reminds me of all the stuff my Mom always did that I laughed about, scoffed at, or rolled my eyes over. Hope I think of enough for my girl.

Wishing you all a smooth entry back into school.


TKW August 13, 2013 at 5:32 pm


Miss D. has ADHD, and kindy was her hardest year–more due to the teacher she had than anything, but I’m here if you ever need an ear. Gaaa, it’s hard to send them to kindy. :(


Lisa @ The Meaning of Me August 13, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Your captcha thing hates me!

We had a rough year this last one in preschool – mostly, like you said, teacher. The team in that room just did not listen and couldn’t understand what she needed for everyone to have a great year. We are looking forward to a much more positive year all around. Zilla is so excited she can’t stand herself. I think the structure and routine in her new school, plus outstanding resources there, will be just the thing for her. Here’s hoping!


Mr TKW August 13, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Great job getting them ready. Camouflage beats short-shorts anyday (in the eyes of a dad at least)!


TKW August 13, 2013 at 5:33 pm


Fuck off! Do not mention short shorts ever again. I’m buying a nun’s habit for that child. Stat.


Mary Lee August 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Sounds like you deserve a big ATTAGIRL. I think you’ll have plenty of middle school stories to write.


TKW August 13, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Mary Lee,

Alas, I think you are right.

your other daughter


SuziCate August 13, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Wow, school preparation is so different with girls than boys. But still I’m glad I don’t have to do it anymore. I’d say you deserve a glass or two of wine!


TKW August 13, 2013 at 5:35 pm


Boys are easier…with Awesome Stepkid R., it was easy peasy. Except that he insisted on wearing jeans that made it look like he had a load in his pants. *sigh*


Christie August 13, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Love that song.


TKW August 13, 2013 at 7:31 pm

Me, too. In that bloodbath of a musical (which I love–can’t help it) that is such a moving song. Gives me goosebumps every time.


Alexandra August 13, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Oh, you are a dream of a mother. A dream.


TKW August 14, 2013 at 5:30 am


Only if dream=frantic, nervous small dog…:)


Liz August 14, 2013 at 3:32 am

Oh, Kitch. I LOVE this post. It makes me ache. You caught it, perfectly: the need to prepare, way more for us than them; the details that “matter” such as the bus number a million times simply because for the first time that child will be on her own on that bus.
As for your camo girl…she is so lucky to have you…buying the jacket, allowing her to figure out which Gap item is more “her,” taking her to the spa, the basket, all of it. I grew up in a house that when I declared something was more “me” than something else, they made fun of me, and usually made me wear the first thing.
Hope everyone slept, at least a little, and it all went super smoothly.
P.S. And isn’t wine always an emergency provision?


TKW August 14, 2013 at 5:29 am


Wine is essential, that’s for sure. Thursday is her first day–I’ll keep you posted!


Alison August 14, 2013 at 8:18 am

Stop it. All this growing up business. I can’t handle it.
And my boys are only 3 1/2 and 15 months. Mere babies. But for how long? *sob*
(You’re a good Mama)


TKW August 17, 2013 at 4:51 pm


I think boys give you more time and enough nonchalant (or is it oblivious?) attitude to give you a few more year’s grace.

I always look at my girls and wonder, “Why the heck did I wish for girls?” Those suckers grow up fast.


Tiffany August 14, 2013 at 9:38 am

Right there with you. Hang on tight.


Jennifer August 14, 2013 at 12:03 pm

I cried myself to sleep the other night thinking about James starting kindergarten, walking in with his too big for his body backpack, clutching his lunch kit as he launches himself into the new. He’s more than ready. I wish I could say the same for myself. Preparations indeed.


TKW August 17, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Jen, how did he do? Is he starting already? I cried at the bus stop like an idiot when M. left last year.


Dawn August 14, 2013 at 5:32 pm

See? This is why I have a dog. :)


Nattie August 17, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Spa treatment for a 13 year old…..are you fucking stupid??? (Wait! dont’ answer that)!


TKW August 17, 2013 at 4:43 pm


She is eleven. Are you fucking stupid?


TKW August 17, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Oh wait. Don’t answer that.


ReneeJay August 18, 2013 at 9:20 pm

I had three boys, so school shopping with a daughter is one of those things I never experienced. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like today if I had a daughter of my own. I guess it was never in the cards for me since even my stepdaughters didn’t really accept me as a mother. But for a moment today, I experienced shopping with a daughter vicariously through you. Thank you!


Arnebya August 20, 2013 at 10:39 am

This weekend is ours, the girls and mine. We will brave DSW where they both wear women’s sizes. We will brave the sport shoe store where they will both beg for $100 sneakers that I will sneer and snort at and maybe knock off the shelf because fuck you, Nike, it’s a shoe. The oldest girl will get her hair straightened and we’ll all three get manicures. We don’t even have school supply lists yet. And when we get them on day 1, I’m not going to buy anything until the following weekend. I refuse. Give ’em pens and paper and keep it movin’.


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri August 20, 2013 at 9:54 pm

Kitch, you tell a story like no other. I mean it. Humor, class, and the ability to make me laugh and cry at the same time. I am never disappointed when I come to this space. I know I am here late, but I hope your girls had successful first days at school.


TKW August 21, 2013 at 5:59 am


They did. Miss D. loved it. Miss M. felt “a little homesick” in the afternoon but she told her teacher and was better after a big hug. xo


pamela September 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Oh I have missed being here!!! I just LOVE this blog and this story. Per usual you made me laugh and then cry again. With 2 boys, I will have different issues (and they are still young) but I relate to so much of this. Gus ONLY wears camouflage and Oliver doesn’t care what he wears. And the schedules! And the index card pinned to Gus’ pre-K backpack which makes me want to cry everytime I see it. Thank you so much for capturing the essence of motherhood.


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