First day of school looks different in eighth grade

I still remember the outfit Ainsley wore the first day of kindergarten - a navy short-sleeved T-shirt dress with fuchsia and yellow trim.

I bought it for her weeks before school started and might have asked her if she liked it. But that was the extent of her input on her first-day-of-school attire.

Things proceeded like this quite nicely for several years. In first grade, she wore an adorable light blue dress with white butterflies. In second grade, a sleeveless shirt festooned with flamingos paired with a fuchsia ruffled skirt. Third grade, well, you get the idea.

This year Ainsley started eighth grade and the tables have turned. I had very little say in the first day of school outfit (really veto power, only, and I'm glad I didn't have to exercise it). Ainsley wore a new pair of pants (not ripped at all!) and a crop top that fortunately was more top than crop. She looked great. At a slim 5' 9 1/2" she always does. Of course, at 13, she can't always see herself that way.

There were no requests this year for me to paint her nails with bubble-gum pink polish. Instead she got a manicure with solid black polish on four nails and black flames on the other six. It's not something I would ever pick, but it looks spectacular. (Thanks, Grandma Pat, for the back-to-school gift!)

Our back-to-school shopping trip was less successful. We returned with a Levi's T-shirt (which she pronounces as "levies" as in tax levy), two bottles of body spray and a pair of black Nike high tops. I'm not sure why she needs a second pair of black high tops, but I was so happy to find a pair she liked at $60 - after the first pair we saw carried a $190 price tag - I was willing to overlook the duplication.

I had high hopes for this trip. I thought we might find a pair of wide leg jeans - her favorite - that were not so ripped that a third of her leg would be exposed when she sat down. I thought we might buy some shirts that did not feature the name of a band or company logo. I should have remembered one of my favorite sayings: "Expectations are premeditated resentments."

If I look at the time we spent together, though, rather than what we purchased, we did have a great day. We enjoyed having lunch together and testing out countless scents of body spray. Ainsley even had the patience to let me do a little shopping for myself. I was thrilled to find not one but two sweater vests on display at a favorite clothing store, as I have continued wearing them since they were last in style.

And then, on the first day of school, she let me take her picture, one with a full-on smile, before she left. The dog and I watched her walk down the block, both longing for the days when we would walk to school with her.

She is not a kid anymore - as her height should remind me every day. But, as I realized when she was much younger, even though she is growing up faster than I expected, a part of her remains the little girl she used to be.

I can still see that kindergartner - and the preschooler and toddler, too - in my daughter's face, even as I admire that beautiful young woman she is becoming.

- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

Author Bio

Author photo

Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean