I expected that I would cry today. My littlest boy started kindergarten for 3-year-olds and I just knew I wasnʼt going to make it without tears. So sure was I of my impending waterworks, I had an escape route from his school planned that would get me out of the building, as quickly as possible, and into the relative anonymity of my car.
Yet strangely enough, I didnʼt shed a tear. Little brother is so ready to join his brother and the ranks of the thousands of other Milwaukee Public Schools students that he gave me a kiss and a wave over his shoulder, and turned toward his teacher, his classroom and his new experiences.
And it didnʼt really upset me. Not much grief at all, to be honest, but quite a bit of glee. Glee that he was excited and not fearful. Glee that he was looking forward to this experience and not dreading it. Glee that I now had some level of certainty that he was going to be ﬁne at school.
I felt glee, Iʼll also admit, because for the ﬁrst time in 6 years, I was more or less free of child-rearing for a few hours. No one was waiting for a diaper change at home. No one wanted me to play LEGOs or build superhero houses or cut up apples.
I was sort of shocked by my reaction. I nearly laughed in the car instead of crying.
Then I felt guilty. It seems a little traitorous to my children to be excited to have a couple of mornings without them each week.
I think I can get over that guilt though. I think the chance to grade papers, prepare lectures, fold laundry and make phone calls without simultaneously breaking up ﬁghts or opening fruit snacks will help.
Hereʼs to a new school year!
April Spray Newton is a Milwaukee transplant, having set down roots here almost six years ago. She's an instructor at Marquette University, a freelance writer, a mother, a wife and lots of other things. In the Newton household, we all want to be President someday, or maybe an artist, or maybe a chef, or maybe an astronaut, or maybe a pop star, or maybe ....
Because April hails from the Midwest, Milwaukee has seemed deeply familiar at times but also revolutionary. To April, the friendly attitudes, do-it-yourself-iness, and love of the outdoors are recognizable and welcome. Milwaukeeans' accepting approach of so many kinds of people, devotion to education, passion for the arts and interest in creating a true sense of community is surprising but also very welcome.
April has worked in TV news and still freelances in print. Her stories have appeared in several local publications.