School days, school daze …

This week has been a transitional one for Chez Anselmeau.  Charlotte, our daughter, started fifth grade on Tuesday.

Most of you are probably thinking, “what, before the end of July?!?”  What can I tell you, that’s just the way Stockton Unified School District rolls.  They call it a “modified traditional” schedule, and the modification is that there’s only eight weeks of summer vacation, but three two-week breaks in the school year — one in October, one around Christmas, and one in March/April.  I think it’s a little silly, but my opinion wasn’t solicited.

And Pittman Elementary, Charlotte’s new charter school, runs on the same sked.  So on Monday, between the departure of our friend John (and his two kids) and the arrival of our friends Jim and Venessa (and their four kids), Charlotte got one last day of freedom.  We did a shopping spree at Target (mostly for school uniforms, but still), had brunch at Denny’s (a cheeseburger and hash browns for me, chocolate chip pancakes for her) and saw Ramona and Beezus (four stars, Ray sez check it out).

And the next day, I unleashed her on a new school year — and started working on adjusting to it.

For her, the adjustment has been ridiculously easy.  She was starting to get bored with being off anyway, so she hopped into the new challenge with some alacrity.  The homework has been easy for her, taking less than an hour each night (and that’s including 30 minutes of reading, her choice of books).  She hasn’t made any friends yet, but I figure that’ll happen in time.  the only thing that’s been tough is remembering where I pick her up from when school lets out, and I think we got that cleared up this afternoon.

For The Supermodel, Sean and I, it’s been a bit more complicated.  On the easy side, the house is much quieter, and Nina and I have a little more chance to relax.  Food is lasting longer — we still have about a pound and a half of the two pounds of salami I bought a week ago.  (Charlotte goes through dry salami like a chainsaw.) And her no longer being so bored means she’s getting into fewer arguments with Mom, and the ones that remain have been shorter.

But this is a fallen world, and there is no such thing as an unmixed blessing.  Our schedule has been forced to change because of the necessity of driving Charlotte to Pittman at 7:45 a.m. and home again at 2 p.m.  Last year, she walked three blocks to school with Nina (who worked there); Pittman is fourteen blocks away, so that’s not an option – not with my bad feet, Nina’s CMT or that it’s a 45-minute round trip on “shank’s mare.”

More affected is Sean, because 7:45 lands right in the middle of his breakfast feeding.  The Supermodel has been handling that, but when she goes back to work (the sooner the better for her, as she’s getting bored too), we’ll have to rethink when he eats in the morning.  The 2:00 trip is a bigger deal, as his physical therapy appointment was Thursdays from 2-3.  We’ve already had to move it to 1-2, with the understanding that Charlotte will have to wait until it’s finished and we come across town before we can pick her up (around 2:15 or 2:20).  She says she’s cool with it, but the acid test will be next Thursday.  And let’s face it — having his hyper big sister around all day was one of his most reliable sources of entertainment for the last month and a half.  Now he has to make do without.

Well, those are the breaks, as my mom used to say.  Every change in life has its own set of consequences, sets off a unique series of often unpredictable chain reactions.  After the last year in our lives, all the minor difficulties above are just that more minor.  We’ll deal with them as we come, shift and fill in as needed.  We’ll look forward to Charlotte’s passage through fifth grade and hopefully have the sense to cherish all the good memories that come out of it.  And when she wins a Pulitzer, an Oscar or a WNBA championship, we’ll be able to say we knew her when …

Go get ’em, tiger.

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