Lucy begins school today. Well, at least they call it “school,” as I’m not sure what the nomenclature is for the weird years before kindergarten, but I do know it’s twice a week, and that she has her own cubby, and it’s a set class where they learn different activities in order to sharpen their minds and hone their social skills. Which sounds just like the “schools” I went to, except for the learning and social skills part.

I know all of you with older kids have long since abandoned any fascination you have with this topic, but it’s still new to us, and therefore a big deal. Today is the first day of a journey that will culminate – the Buddha willing – 16 years from now when she graduates from high school. Hell, if the seas don’t rise too high and we’re all drawing oxygen into our lungs, that journey might take 20 years, including college (although our household Rule of Three still holds: “no Dook, no ______* and no motorcycles”)

Just think of every day you went to school. There had to be a first, and that’s today. Even if it’s largely defined by her “cubby,” which as far as I know, is the first time she’ll have a designated space of her own outside the house. I wonder if all schools are defined by our locker; we go to school because we have stuff there. It is our 12 square feet of extended self, far flung from the feudal interruptions of our parents. Later on, our dorm room is the same, only more so, with hot-air popcorn poppers and posters of that couple kissing by Robert Doisneau, further detaching us from hearth and womb.

I’m excited for her, but The First Day of School always conjures up misery for me, and I have to have faith she’s able to cull from her vast social repertoire – she’s already cooler than I was as a college sophomore (but not as cool as I was as a senior, because I was pretty fucking cool).

To blunt the edge of dread, I always spent the days before each school year obsessing over school supplies, making my mom buy Husky pencils, 4-color Bic pens and Trapper Keepers, protractors and translucent plastic zipper bags that snapped into 3-prong folders. Somehow, if I had enough things to write with, I’d be able to shield myself from the crap I knew was coming. By week 2, all of my supplies would be sitting unused in the locker; instead, I’d have sheets of torn-out paper masquerading as class notes, hastily scribbled from Algebra foxholes. My locker was a disaster area. I still have dreams about it.

Lucy needs no such cache; however, the one thing they do require is an Earthquake Preparedness Kit, held in a 2-gallon Ziploc bag. It has a change of clothes, nutrition bars, a space blanket, and a variety of other things, including “a cuddly for your child to hang onto.” I can promise you, in the event of an earthquake, that kid will not be clutching a cuddly, she’ll be pulling classmates away from gas leaks.

Oh yeah, there’s one thing I needed to make for her first day: a photo for her cubby, so that other kids know which one is which. So late last night, I pored through some photos, and decided to print this one:


go get ’em, my little girl!