For the Heffner kids, every couple of years means being the "new kid" at school. My girls are champs. They handle the first day like a pro. Talk to people right away, make friends before they're even on the bus. They know exactly how to fit themselves into their new lives.
I shouldn't worry. But I do.
I think it's mostly guilt. I can relate to most of the things that my girls are going through or will go through - teenager-hood, menstruation, boyfriends (or lack thereof), high school, driver's ed, being the oldest, having sisters, sharing, and thinking they know everything.
But I lived in the same town my whole childhood. The same house, with the same friends and the same routine for many, many years. I don't know what it's like to be the "new kid". Well, not as a kid, at least. (I have too much experience being the "new grown-up" on the block.)
I hate that my high-schooler has me check her forms to make sure the address and phone number are correct, because we've moved so many times that she can't keep the new address straight.
I hate that my second-grader didn't know anyone on the bus today so I don't know whether or not she sat alone. (She probably didn't, but my worried-mom-brain fears that she did.)
I hate that my middle-schooler is afraid that she won't find her locker and when she finally does, she won't have time to open it or won't know how to get to her next class. (We went to "locker night", but her locker and hundreds of others weren't programmed yet so it was a colossal waste of time.)
Is there anything I can do to protect them from these things? Not really, I suppose. I did everything I could have - talked to them, asked them about their fears, put "love notes" in their backpacks, and hugged them all as they prepared to board their respective buses this morning.
I cried as I watched Abby board the bus. Her first bus ride to school, ever. (Hawaii buses cost extra and I would never have sent her on it. Long story...) She was a trooper. Not scared a bit. But I felt sad that she didn't have a sister or a pal to share this experience with. (Alissa and Alex ride the same bus, to the same school, so at least they have each other...)
I guess I just hate that they have this extra worry, on top of it being the first day of school. It's not fair. But, it's the life we chose. The life we were given - the life that God is confident that we can handle. This Army life. It's been very good to us, but there are tough days, like today, when I wish that Grandma or Auntie lived down the street and that we had more than one name that we could list on our Emergency Contact sheets.
I'm sure that their first day is wonderful, and they all found someone to eat lunch with, and had no problems getting to their classes, lockers, or buses.