My oldest boy, Cameron, is headed back to school tomorrow. Not only that, but he starts Grade 1, which is a pretty big deal when you're accustomed to calling it a day at 11:30 a.m. and everything that happens outside of the kindergarten wing is cloaked in mystery.
Cam has taken a while to get comfortable with the notion of being in Grade 1. He doesn't yet know how to read and some of his friends do, so he's been concerned that he's not "proper for Grade 1." A little pomp and ceremony have been required to nudge him from plain old nervous to nervous excitement.
I wrote last week about the transitions that September brings, some of them welcome, some of them, not so much. Suffice it to say we both needed something to give Labour Day some shape, mark the end of summer on a high note and welcome the start of school.
We decided on a back-to-school lunch at noon. This way everyone could have a leisurely meal and good long play and still get to bed on time. (You could do this with school-bus themed invitations and a school-bus cake, but this was planned on short-notice, which I think is the easiest and lowest-pressure way to throw a party.)
I didn't feel like manning the barbecue all day, and I wanted to be able to talk to my friends, so I made platters of sandwiches (school-lunch theme, right?) that I could pull out of the fridge when guests were assembled. Along with a selection of other kid-friendly snacks, Irene's veggie tray and a plate of watermelon, this was all that was needed.
(Unfortunately, 2-year-old Alister sidled up to this tiered snack tray when I was busy setting up, and polished off the chips.)It was a gorgeous day, so the backyard was the perfect place to gather.
Left to right, that's Alister (he's not going back to school), Maddie, Davis, Ella (who declared her intention to marry Davis several times during the party), Cameron and Emerson.
The kids had plenty of opportunity to burn off some last-day-of-summer energy...
and playing "Octopus." (Octopus? Cameron explains: "One person is the octopus and they say 'run!' and if you get touched, you're seaweed.")
Naturally, all of this requires refreshments...
Of one kind,
Because after keeping kids entertained through nine weeks of summer vacation,
the grown-ups deserve a little fun, too.
Naturally, the centrepiece of this sort of gathering is always the cake (who doesn't like cake?).
I swung by Baskin-Robbins late Sunday afternoon and selected this ice cream cake from the few left on the shelf. I asked the young man helping me if someone could pipe the words "Back to school!" on top. He said yes, but added, "I dunno why anyone would want to celebrate THAT." He then proceeded to spell it S-H-C-O-O-L. The above is his fix-it job.
It went over Okay.
But the important part is that, by dinnertime, Cameron had declared that he was now more excited than nervous, and that going into Grade 1 "makes me feel so much bigger."
And that's the point.
Have a great first day of school.